Chapter 52. Change of Heart (2)


Chae Nayun slammed the door to her room close, then jumped on her bed.
At first, she was going to simply ask the guys out for a night time snack. But when she was about to knock on their door, she heard them having an interesting conversation and ended up eavesdropping instead.

—I’ve been thinking about her for far longer than you and I’ve been watching over her all this time. So I know far more about her than you.

It was the first time she had heard something so direct. It was partly because few men were confident enough to approach her, and it was also because she blocked such situations from happening.

“Is he really crazy?”

What Kim Hajin said still lingered by her ears.

‘Should I wash my ears? Or should I have gone in there and smacked his head?’ Chae Nayun bounced around on her bed while striking it repeatedly.

“What’s going on…?”

And Chae Nayun’s seemingly drunk act woke up Yoo Yeonha who was sleeping peacefully.

“Nayun… What are you doing?”

“H-Huh?”

Chae Nayun flinched.
Yoo Yeonha glared at Chae Nayun with narrowed eyes. Why was this woman beating up a poor bedsheet?

“Are you sick or something?”

“I-It’s nothing.”

Chae Nayun couldn’t tell her what she had just heard. She couldn’t even imagine telling someone about such personal matters.

“…Then sleep. I’m tired.”

Muttering so, Yoo Yeonha plopped back down on her back.

“Uh, yeah, good night. I’m going to sleep too.”

Chae Nayun also buried herself under her blanket.

‘Right, it doesn’t matter. I only overheard it anyways. Regardless of what Kim Hajin’s intentions were, I just have to ignore it.’

With such thoughts, Chae Nayun pulled the blanket over her head.

But for some reason, she couldn’t fall asleep.
Thinking about her… Watching over her all this time …
Fragments of Kim Hajin’s words kept wandering around her head.

‘Watching over me all this time? Is he a stalker? No, if he is, there’s no way I wouldn’t have noticed him.’

A sharpshooter’s senses were extremely sharp. A stalker was someone who secretly took pictures, followed women late at night, and things like that…

Kyaaaak—!!

Suddenly, a high-pitched voice rang out in the mansion. Chae Nayun opened her eyes abruptly and shot up.

“W-What!? Ah, aaak!”

Yoo Yeonha also got up in shock, tripping on her bedsheet and falling down. With her hands on the floor, she glared at Chae Nayun resentfully.

“Chae Nayun! Y-You!”

“No! It wasn’t me this time!”

“Then who was it!?”

“…Outside.”

Chae Nayun turned the lights on. Just at that moment, lights shone through from under the room, signaling that the lights in the hallway turned on. At the same time, they could hear loud footsteps running around. Yoo Yeonha finally understood the gravity of the situation.

“Was that a real scream?”

“Yeah. Hurry up, we should go.”

Chae Nayun put on a jacket.

**


Kim Suho ran out of the room the moment the scream rang out. I was just about to follow him when I noticed something and stopped.
Sitting on the shelf was a white handgun. Right, it was my Desert Eagle. I couldn’t put it away because I didn’t have any magic power left, but it seemed someone had taken care of it for me.

“…”

The handgun’s figure struck me with a flash of inspiration.

“With this… No.”

I quickly cast the thought away, but it kept coming back to me.
What Kim Suho told me lingered in my ears.

—If I’m the main character, you are one too.

Unpredictability.
Because I was afraid of this, I was trying my best to stay away from altering the original story.
But even if I didn’t think too deeply, I could see that the story was already altered by a certain damned guy.
Right, this world was already full of unpredictability. Worrying about it was foolish.

“…I’m sure it’ll work out somehow.”

After fighting off my hesitation, I picked up my gun.

Then, I quickly ran down the hallway to the mansion owner’s room.
The other 14 members of the traveling club were all standing by the door with shocked expressions.

“T-This…”

In a dark room larger than six ordinary living rooms put together, the mansion owner was lying on his bed with a dagger sticking out of his heart. In front of this horrific scene, a maid was sobbing traumatically. Presumably, she was the one who first discovered the scene.

“Bedel-ssi…”

Kim Suho muttered Belbet’s false name. I could understand why everyone was so shocked. During dinner, Belbet must have talked to them like a kind grandfather next door, trying to draw their sympathy by saying stupid things like, ‘my son who died before me also wanted to become a Hero.’

“Wait. Let, let me confirm what state he’s in.”

While the cadets were standing in a daze from shock, Oh Hanhyun’s girlfriend appeared.
Natasha the doctor. I closely scrutinized her movements. She slowly approached Belbet and checked his pulse. Then, she shook her head.

“…He’s gone.”

She closed Belbet’s eyes, who died with his eyes open, then returned to Oh Hanhyun’s side. It was laughable seeing her pretend to be sad as she leaned against his shoulder.

“W-What happened…”

At that moment, the head butler ran into the room.
Now, he would break out into tears, talking about all the fake good deeds Belbet has done and reiterating the threats and attempted murder Belbet received from supposed evildoers.

I originally planned on letting the story continue as it did in my novel, but I no longer had the desire to watch this farce.

Belbet was supposed to become a schemer who used his shrewd brain to help out Djinns. Because of the nature of his character, I didn’t know what he would do if left alone.
If possible, it was better to get rid of him now.

“S-So they did it! Those bastards…”

“Calm down, head butler.”

While the cadets were busy consoling the sobbing maid and butler, I turned the lights on. Immediately, the room became bright.

“Hey, why did you turn on the light!?”

Seeing the scene of a murder and the bloody corpse, Chae Nayun shouted in surprise.
I glanced around the room before slowly walking up to Belbet.

“Excuse me! Don’t get close!”

Natasha shouted hastily. Ignoring her, I put on an act of examining Belbet’s face and state. I lifted up his clothes to check his wound and pressed down on the bloody bed. Simply put, I was acting like a detective.

“You can’t mess up the scene of the crime before the police arrive…”

Unable to endure it any longer, Natasha came over to drag me away. However, I pulled out my gun from my pocket and aimed it at her.

“Don’t come close.”

“…!”

Natasha raised her hand in shock, while the butler, who was crying only a moment ago, shot up and shouted.

“W-What are you doing!?”

It wasn’t only the butler. The cadets gathered here also shouted the same thing.
Facing their loud voices directly, I began to get a headache. Was it because I just woke up from exhaustion? I suddenly felt irritated. Gritting my teeth, I shouted.

“SHUT THE FUCK UP!”

Even I was surprised by how loud I was. Silence descended immediately.
I let out a sigh, then continued calmly.

“This person is trying to trick us. He’s not dead. He’s in what’s called a state of suspended animation.”

“D-Don’t be stupid. I’m a doctor. What do you know about—”

“I’m going to explain, so shut up and wait.”

I continued with my gun still pointing at Natasha.

“First, this scar is too unnatural. It’s too shallow for someone to have stabbed him from above.”

I just reported what I observed and concluded from the scene. I wasn’t an expert in crime scene investigation, so I could be wrong in all honesty. But since I knew the truth, the process didn’t really matter.

“Next, there’s too much blood. He only has one fatal injury to his heart, but the blood is covering this huge bed and even dripping down to the floor. Almost as if to emphasize that this man was dead.”

I stole a glance at Natasha’s expression. She didn’t seem agitated yet.

“Finally and most importantly…”

Using my smartwatch, I projected the International Wanted List. I might have lied about everything else, but this was real.
Belbet, the conman.
Although he looked thinner in the photo, the man lying dead on the bed looked similar to the man in the photo.
At this point, the cadets were shaken up.

“Of course, you can argue that they’re different people since the man in the photo is so much thinner, but if taking the other two clues into account, you have to think something’s up.”

“…Head butler, you called the police and ambulance, right?”

However, Natasha was still calm.
The butler quickly retorted to Natasha’s question.

“Y-Yes, I called them.”

“Then we can just ask them instead of making a fuss like that man.”

I couldn’t let that happen. Once the bribed police and medical personnel came, Belbet would escape this place safely.
I had to resolve the situation before then.

With a grin, I moved my gun away from Natasha, pointing at Belbet. Only then did Natasha begin to lose her composure.

“W-What are you doing!?”

“What do you mean? I’m going to shoot him.”

“The police will be here soon!”

“He’s dead anyway, right?”

I put my finger on the trigger.

“T-This scoundrel! Honey, stop him!”

Natasha shook Oh Hanhyun and urged him to step in.
The head butler, Belbet, and Natasha.
They were all on the same boat.

“Um, Hajin…”

Oh Hanhyun spoke up carefully.

“If you move even a single step, I’ll shoot. Especially you, Kim Suho. I’m only looking at you.”

“…Got it.”

Kim Suho, who was slowly approaching me, stopped and raised his hands.
I also made the other cadets back off. Then, I spoke to Natasha.

“It’s loaded with real bullets.”

“We already called the police! Put that gun down!”

Natasha was trembling with her entire body. Her reaction should be enough of a proof, but I still needed something more decisive.

“If you don’t confess by the time I countdown to one, I’m going to shoot. Since he’s dead, it doesn’t matter, right?”

“Confess what!? He’s already dead!”

I began to count.

“Three.”

I diverted my focus to the cadets in case anyone of them would try to do something stupid.

“Two.”

But contrary to my expectations, Kim Suho stayed calm, while the usually timid Oh Hanhyun tried to operate his magic power.
At that moment, someone stepped in and stopped him.

“Wait.”

It was Yoo Yeonha.
Thanks to her, I could finish my countdown.

“One.”

Natasha still didn’t react.

“Then he’ll have to die.”

Click.
I pulled the trigger.

“NO!”

It was just that it wasn’t loaded.
But Natasha, who wasn’t aware of this, quickly ran up to me and pushed me aside. Then, she prostrated on top of Belbet as if to protect him.”

“Don’t shoot! Don’t shoot!”

“…Hm.”

I calmly put my gun down. This was enough proof.
Natasha was Belbet’s daughter. The reason Belbet, who was constantly on the run, settled in France and how he managed to bring Cube’s cadets were all thanks to Natasha.

“Instead of the police, call the Hero Association. Tell them we caught a wanted criminal.”

With that, I loaded my gun, then fired. The magic bullet grazed the leg of the butler who was running away.

“Aaak!”

After that short scream, only silence remained.
Feeling the other cadet's gazes, I walked outside.
My heart was beating crazily.

**


The assassination incident was a plot devised by Belbet and Natasha. Belbet was a wanted criminal in practically all European countries, and he had formulated this plan to avoid their narrowing investigation. His daughter had coincidentally seduced a pushover cadet from Cube, bearing the plan to fruition.

The so-called operation Return to Life.

Though expensive, there was a medicine that could place someone in a temporary state of suspended animation. As a doctor who was a part of Cube, Natasha could easily get her hands on one.
Everything afterward was supposed to be simple.
Belbet would take the medicine after receiving a fake injury with the help of a fellow conman magician, and spray the crime scene with blood packs. The emergency medical personnel wouldn’t be able to tell apart suspended animation from death, and Belbet had already bribed out a local Paris police branch.
Next, during the ambulance ride, Belbet would swap himself with the corpse of a man who looked similar and had the same build.
Afterward, Cube’s cadets would take care of the testimony. Cube’s cadets carried one of the greatest levels of trust on the planet.
The government workers he bribed would then ensure he was officially dead, and the real Belbet would be reborn under a new name.

All this was something Kim Suho would find out in the future.

But now, I had completely destroyed parts of the story related to Belbet. Belbet was arrested while he was still in a state of suspended animation. When he woke up, he would find himself in jail.

[Belbet, the man you requested to find has been arrested by the French police and is currently being transported to a local Hero Association branch.]
[Congratulations! As you are our first customer, this question was answered free of charge.]

Currently, it was 9 A.M in the morning.
Crouched down on the ground, I replied to Belbet’s victim, who had asked about him on Truth Agency.

“…Are you Sherlock?”

At that moment, a voice rang out.
It was Yoo Yeonha. I smiled without answering her.
In truth, what I said last night was an amateurish deduction at best. But because of the unexpected situation they were in, no one had thought deeply about what I said.

But surprisingly and perhaps thanks to luck, the investigation revealed what I said to be mostly correct.

“The incident with Yun Hyun and now this. You might as well open up a detective agency.”

“Sharpshooters have good eyes.”

“That’s true, but how did you recognize him? Do you have the faces of wanted criminals memorized?”

I flinched. As expected of Yoo Yeonha, she sharply pointed out one of the flaws in my action.

“I apologize. That’s a private matter."[1]

That was all I could tell her.

“What’s up with the sudden polite speech…”

Yoo Yeonha retorted bluntly, then made a meaningful expression. ‘Family matter, family matter…’ She seemed to be wandering off to her own world of imaginations. At this point, I wasn’t even curious what misunderstanding she was cooking up.

But speaking of family affair, I suddenly got curious about my own.
To be more precise, about Kim Chundong’s family. All I knew from reading his official record was that he was from an orphanage.
It was probably worth looking into once I got home.


1. The word, private matter, can also mean family matter.

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FudgeNouget's Thoughts

Btw, Hazuki is a girl; I previously used the pronoun "he". I've fixed all the previous chapters to reflect the change. Sorry for the confusion!