Chapter 54. Vestige (2)


Ding

“Ah, god damn it!”

The sudden smartwatch message clogged up the game screen at a crucial moment. Yoo Jinhyuk roared and shot up like a spring.

“What, you lost again?”

His secretary asked apathetically.

“No, but hey! Did you link my smartwatch with the computer?”

“No.”

“You did! I lost because of the alert!”

“It wasn’t me.”

Yoo Jinhyuk grabbed the back of his neck, feeling blood pressure rising. He had just lost 50 million won from that loss.

“My life… What?”

But his sullen mood disappeared in an instant when he saw the name of the messenger – Yoo Yeonha.
It was the name of his adorable niece.

“Did the sun rise from the west today? My niece just messaged me!”

If he remembered correctly, the last time they had talked was five years ago. Yoo Jinhyuk quickly checked the content of the message.

[Uncle, I need you to look into someone’s family history.]

Yoo Jinhyuk tilted his head.

“Mm? Well, that’s surprising.”

“Is it work?”

His secretary’s eyes lit up.

“No, I told you it’s from my niece.”

“So is it work?”

“…I guess it is. Huaaam.”

Yoo Jinhyuk yawned and slumped down on his couch. Yoo Yeonha sent a follow-up message.

[Cube’s cadet, Kim Hajin.]

“Kim Hajin… Who’s that?”

“Why are you asking me?”

“Look into him. He’s apparently a Cube cadet.”

“Is he?”

The number of Cube cadets was at most 6000 in any given year. Given such a small pool, finding someone was a piece of cake for someone in their line of business. The secretary’s hands moved like lightning on her computer keyboard.
Soon, a general overview of the cadet in question popped up.

“He’s an orphan. He has a 300 million won debt.”

“Oh, so that’s why she said family affair. She must want to know who his parents are. Also, he has that much debt?”

“Yes. He also has a brokerage account. I don’t know how much he has in it though.”

Yoo Jinhyuk murmured as he picked his earwax.

“Well if it’s only that, I guess I can do it for free.”

“…Ehew, there goes my paycheck.”

“You’re going to get your pay. Honestly, don’t you think you’re taking too much? 20 million won per month for god’s sake.”

“That’s because I’m worth that much.”

“Tsk.”

Yoo Jinhyuk clicked his tongue as he berated his secretary. Then, he suddenly shot up.

“Get ready.”

“Are you really going to do it for free?”

“Yeah, I have a favor I want from Hyung anyways.”

“Aha.”

The usually uptight secretary was immediately convinced.
There was one reason why Yoo Jinhyuk was the best in this field.

“Is it 16, 17 years ago? Let’s start from the day he was born.”

He could experience people's past.

**


On her way back to the dorm from classes, Yoo Yeonha pouted as she stared at her smartwatch. Three hours had passed since she messaged her uncle but there was no reply. It wasn’t that he didn’t read it since her message was clearly marked with “read”. In other words, he had ignored her.

“…Why isn’t he answering?”

“Who’s he? Don’t, don’t tell me, you got a b-boyfriend?”

Chae Nayun who was next to her asked, looking shocked. Yoo Yeonha glanced at her. For some reason, Chae Nayun recently began to act oddly friendly. Yoo Yeonha didn’t know how to feel about it. Chae Nayun used to be aloof and uncaring in the past, so she couldn’t figure out why she was acting this way.

“I’m going out with Jonghak.”

“The whole world knows that’s a lie.”

“…Ehew. Fine, it’s my uncle.”

“Uncle?”

Yoo Yeonha sighed, and Chae Nayun turned to the side as she snickered.

“You go ahead. I have to go practice archery.”

“Archery? …Oh right, your bet with Kim Hajin is coming up.”

“Yeah, I even rented an archery range for the bet. Do you want to come spectate?”

In the past weekend, Chae Nayun thought about Kim Hajin by herself and came to her own conclusion. If Kim Hajin had romantic feelings for her, she told herself that she’d chastise him after winning the bet. That the way he expressed his affection was wrong and that she was better suited to a bow.

“…Spectate?”

Yoo Yeonha asked in interest. No matter how she thought about it, she couldn’t see Chae Nayun winning. From her experience, Kim Hajin’s confidence was always well-founded.

“Yeah, I invited a bunch of people over.”

“Is Jonghak also going?”

“Yep.”

“…He’s going to bring more people.”

Shin Jonghak would likely do things no one asked him to. To save face, he would bring ten or so cadets with him. If Kim Hajin won, Chae Nayun would be embarrassing herself in front of a large crowd.

“I’ll use this opportunity to put him in place.”

“…”

Yoo Yeonha stared at Chae Nayun’s confident face.
Imagining her overconfident face becoming distorted with embarrassment and despair, Yoo Yeonha thought to herself to not miss the bet.

“I’ll come watch.”

Happy just thinking about it, Yoo Yeonha smiled brightly.
At that moment, her smartwatch rang.

Yun Seung-Ah: [Let’s grab lunch this weekend. I want to apologize for what happened before.]

She quickly checked her smartwatch, but seeing that it wasn’t Yoo Jinhyuk, she furrowed her brows in disappointed.

“Who is it now?”

Chae Nayun stopped and asked again.

“Why are you suddenly so curious?”

“I’m just wondering. Who is it? Kim Suho?”

“…Vice-leader Yun Seung-Ah.”

“Eh? Seung-Ah unni? What about her?”

Yun Seung-Ah and Chae Nayun had a connection in that they were both disciples of the Master rank Hero, Yoo Sihyuk. Of course, that was in the past. When Chae Nayun was being taught, she was only 8 years old, while Yun Seung-Ah was 21.

“She wants to apologize for what happened at the masquerade party.”

“…Ah, I should have gone to that party. If only I didn’t get lost…”

“You should have swapped with me. I wanted to go to that restaurant.”

“The place Kim Hajin took me to?”

Yoo Yeonha nodded with a bitter smile. Although she loved fast food, the Hero Cook’s cooking was something people would kill to eat.

“Now that I think about it, Kim Hajin must not be so simple if he can make a reservation for a place like that.”

“…”

But this woman was only realizing this now. Yoo Yeonha let out a deep sigh in disappointment.

**


I went on my way while listening to the conversation of the two girls in front of me. I was a bit shocked when my name came up, but it wasn’t anything important. It did surprise me that Yun Seung-Ah planned to eat with Yoo Yeonha. After all, they were destined to become competitors.

Then, someone approached me from behind.
When I turned around, a familiar face entered my eyes.

“Hello.”

It was Rachel. She greeted me with a slight smile.

“Ah, yes, did something happen?”

“Here. Thank you again for before.”

She handed me a small box that could just barely fit a car key. I looked back and forth between the box and Rachel, then took the box.

“Can I open it now?”

“Yes.”

As soon as Rachel nodded, I opened the box. I was a bit nervous thinking it might be a real car key, but in it was a key to Cube’s laundry house.

“Ah, clothes?”

With this key, I should be able to pick up a Cloth Armor of some sort.

“Yes, defensive equipment are England’s pride.”

With that, she bowed and began walking to the girls’ dorms. Her actions perfectly matched my description of her – ‘Rachel dislikes talking about personal matters.’
I watched her leave. I could feel a royalty’s elegance and grace just from the way she walked.

*

After picking up Rachel’s gift from the laundry house, I returned to my dorm.
When I took off the plastic wrap, a stylish coat emerged.

“Whoa.”

It wasn’t heavy nor light, having a perfect weight. It wasn’t too long either as if it was tailored for my height.
However, this wasn’t a fashion item.
Although it came with a certificate of quality, I checked its functionality with my laptop.

===
[Royal Black Coat – Jacket] [Partial Artifact]
A coat created by English Royal Court's master craftsman. Patched with parts of an artifact.

「Pinnacle grade Temperature Control」
「Low-intermediate grade Defense」
「Camouflage functionality」
「Form change functionality: Coat ↔ Jacket」
===

Defensive equipment were rarely fully-fledged artifacts. The number of defensive equipment artifacts was far smaller than weapon artifacts, and because they were difficult for modern day people to wear, they were often cut apart and reproduced into other defensive equipment.
‘Partial Artifact’ referred to defensive equipment created in such a way.

“…This is amazing.”

Furthermore, England was a country renowned for their cloth-type defensive equipment. Since this item was crafted by the English Royal Court, it had to be worth several hundred million won.
I put it on. Just as I expected, it was a perfect fit.
I sent Rachel a thank you message.

[Thank you for the coat. I love it.]

She replied immediately.

[No problem ㅎㅎ Use it well ^^]

“…She’s surprisingly good at texting, huh.”

She was usually expressionless and quiet, but…

[(~.~)]

She even sent emoticons in her messages.

**


It was now the middle of May. Since I began attending Cube in February, it would almost be four months since I came to this world. By now, both theory classes and combat training felt like a daily routine.

“The finals are coming up in 4 weeks.”

At the end of the class on Friday, Kim Soohyuk made a solemn announcement. Just like he said, another exam period was coming up. The final exam period would be the final hurdle of this half of the year.

“Written exams will be the same, but combat exams will be completely different.”

Midterms and finals were different. Unlike the midterms which had a festival-like atmosphere, finals were rigorous, serious, and cold.

“Everything you’ve learned until now will be tested in a single exam.”

The exam Kim Soohyuk was talking about wouldn’t be made public until much later, but I already knew what it was.

They would drop cadets off in a remote island filled with wild animals and monsters.
Cadets would need to survive in this island for a week while amassing as many points as possible.
Each monster would be worth one point, and cadets could also defeat other cadets to gain points.
Cadets were free to form teams as they wished and were allowed to give points to others.

Cadets would only find out about the content of the exam on the day of the exam itself. In other words, everyone would be dropped off in a remote island without any preparation. They would only be given two days’ worth of food.

But I planned on preparing for the exam thoroughly. Since most people wouldn’t have even the most basic camping equipment, I would be at a massive advantage in this regard.

“You don’t have to worry about safety. High-intermediate rank and high-rank Heroes will be closely watching you from the shadows.”

Kim Soohyuk dismissed the class after intimidating everyone.

“Now, go back and have fun. I’ll see you on Monday.”

Cadets got up from their seats. I also packed my stuff to go back to my room.

“Hey, is your practice going well? You didn’t forget, right? Our bet’s next week.”

When I was about to leave through the back door, Chae Nayun appeared out of nowhere and asked.
She looked at me with a confident smile. At the same time, the surrounding gazes all fell on us. They were watching our psychological battle with interest.

“No, I didn’t practice at all.”

“…What?”

“I can win without practice.”

After giving a cocky smile, I left the room.

“Hey! Grr, that guy…!”

Only seven days remained until our archery battle.

**


My last interaction with Chae Nayun ended up being pointless as I saw her again soon.
The hunting club had resumed. To celebrate, the hunting club’s leader rented a mountain cabin and planned an overnight trip on Friday.

“Why am I paired with you again…”

“How should I know?”

Currently, we were climbing a mountain. Everywhere we looked was covered in white, and a cold wind blew violently.
This white world where the boundary between earth and heaven seemed faint was Northern Europe’s Norway.
The hunting club had come all the way here for an overnight trip.

It would have been sheer lunacy were I on Earth, but in this world where Portals existed, traveling between countries was extremely easy for Cube’s cadets.
To be honest, I was excited about this trip.
Traveling abroad was something I always wanted to do when I was on Earth, and Norway was one of the places I wanted to go.

“You worked something out with the club leader again, didn’t you?”

“What?”

“Don’t play dumb. I know you pulled strings to become paired with me.”

“…Are you out of your mind?”

Today’s pairs were chosen by a computer program. Despite that, Chae Nayun and I being paired again had to be because of my luck. After all, Chae Nayun was the prettiest one in the club.

“…Anyways, you keep doing things behind my back, but keep it moderate.”

“Worry about yourself. There are plenty of traps around here because of hunters.”

I ignored Chae Nayun’s nonsensical drivel and pointed below her. Startled, Chae Nayun stopped. There was a huge bear trap under her.

“Oh, geez. That surprised me.”

Currently, we were in the middle of the hunting club’s event. To celebrate the club resuming, the traveling club was running a scavenger hunt. Flags were buried around the mountain, and written on these flags were gifts prepared by seniors who were currently active Heroes.

Whiiish—

Suddenly, a fierce wind blew along with a flurry of snow.

“Aah, uuu, my face feels like it’s going to explode.”

The wind disappeared in a moment, but Chae Nayun’s face turned red from the cold.

“You cold?”

“A, a little bit. I should have brought a coat too.”

“I’m not cold.”

For the record, I was wearing the coat Rachel gifted me. Thanks to its temperature control function, I wasn’t a bit cold.

“…Did you buy a new coat?”

“Yeah, it’s amazing.”

“…”

Chae Nayun gave me an aggrieved look. Then, we walked for a bit without talking. Our footsteps let out gentle noises as we stepped on fluffy snow. I quite enjoyed the scenery of Norway’s snowy mountain.

“Ah, over there! There’s a flag.”

Chae Nayun pointed at a nearby mountain peak. On the edge of a cliff, a single flag was waving dangerously.

“That must be the first place flag.”

It had to be, considering the dangerous place it was in. But would anyone be crazy enough to climb up there?

“Hey, let’s go up.”

The person in question was right next to me.

“…We don’t need to.”

I took out a roll of wire from my pocket. It wasn’t Aether Wire, but a normal roll of wire. I brought one as a supporting weapon.

“You’re going to throw it and pull it out? Is that even possible?”

Without answering to Chae Nayun’s doubt, I tied the wire around a knife. Then, I attached some of Stigma’s magic power on it. Recently, I’ve been thinking more about ways to use Stigma’s magic power.

“Huup!”

I threw the knife in full force. The knife flew in a straight line and easily surpassed the flag’s position.

“Pft. Nice try.”

But suddenly, the knife bent in a strange angle, spinning around the flag and wrapping around it. Then, it returned to my hands along with the flag.

Stigma’s magic power followed my will. I attached Stigma’s magic power to the knife so I could move it to my will.
I separated the wire and knife, put them back in my belt, and then held up the flag.

“…N-Not bad.”

Chae Nayun tried to sound unimpressed as she snatched the flag out of my hand. Then, the flag shrunk down to a piece of paper, which I snatched back from Chae Nayun.

“Ah.”

There were two lines written in pretty handwriting.

[First place. The prize is Yun Seung-Ah’s contact number. That’s me! You know who I am, right? If you need any help call me any time. I’ll help you out once as long as it’s something I can help with~]

“…Why is Yun Seung-Ah popping out from here?"

“Yun Seung-Ah? Address her more politely. Also, this is amazing.”

I was extremely disappointed, but Chae Nayun seemed happy.

“You can take it then.”

“What? You’re giving this to me? Seung-Ah unni is the vice-leader of a rank 1 guild!”

“I don’t need it.”

I handed the paper to her without much thought. After all, I already had her contact number.
Chae Nayun, who was about to accept it with a grin, suddenly paused and put on a serious face.

“No, you take it. Why give me what’s yours? I don’t need it.”

“…Uh, yeah, sure.”

I was taken aback by her strange change in attitude, but I didn’t say much about it for now.

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