It was 2 A.M. in Korea, but 7 P.M. in Norway. The two countries were in different time zones, but their skies were equally dark.
Darkness descending on the snowy mountain marked the end of hunting club’s event.
Chae Nayun and I obtained the first place and fourth place flags. The first place flag rewarded a piece of paper with Yun Seung-Ah’s one-time help coupon, and the fourth place flag rewarded a VR gaming set worth 3 million won. All the prizes were fantastic as expected of gifts from active Heroes.
Chae Nayun and I returned to the cabin, where a warm barbeque party was waiting. Other club members who just came back greeted us with smiles.
“Wow, you got the first place flag!? I’m jealous!”
The club leader saw the flag in my hand and exclaimed. Other club members also sent looks of envy, to which I made a bitter smile.
“Now, let’s eat.”
The barbeque party started. Club members put meat on the grill. The sizzling sound was pleasant to hear, to say the least, but these kids were terrible at grilling. Realizing that they were just teenagers, I stepped up.
“I’ll handle the grilling. You guys can rest.”
When it came to cooking meat, it was a matter of pride for me. Because my aunt ran a Korean BBQ restaurant, I was quite confident in my grilling technique.
“…You’re different than what the rumors say, huh.”
A male senior gave me a look of surprise as he handed me the tongs he was holding.
Without talking, I focused on grilling. Knowing when to flip was the most important thing in cooking meat, and it was best to delay cutting them until the end. Of course, even as I devoted my attention to grilling, I kept my ears open. The seniors began to give their juniors valuable advice.
“I know your finals are coming up. Be careful. Finals will be more rigorous than any of the previous exams. Don’t trust anyone, especially during the finals.”
“Is it that difficult?”
“It’s difficult, but more importantly, I’ve seen friendships dissolve because of it. Because it’s directly connected to the cadet rankings, everyone will be on the edge. Also, you guys know that there’s a separate class for people being held back, right?”
“There are about 200 of them per year. You have to be especially careful of those guys. They won’t stop at anything to pass since they’ll be expelled if they don’t pass this time.”
Cadets held back from the previous year, they would be the source of trouble during the finals. Of the 200 repeaters, close to 20% were contracted to Djinns or were part of high profile organizations. There could be even more if the co-author manipulated the numbers.
“Hey, um… Haejin?”
“It’s Hajin. Kim Hajin.”
“Ah, Kim Hajin. You’re a great griller! But you should eat some too.”
“I’ve been eating while grilling, so I’m full.”
The barbeque party continued for 20 minutes. Because I did a great job on the grilling duty, everyone was seeing me more favorably.
“The original plan was to go out for a night hunt… but let’s just rest since we’re full.”
The club leader made his decision.
“Team 1 will use Cabin A. Team 2 will use Cabin B.”
The 18 club members split into two separate cabins. Chae Nayun and I were assigned to Cabin A.
The cabin was surprisingly big. The first floor had three rooms and a large living room, while the second floor had six rooms, with each person having their own room.
After unpacking our belongings, we met in the living room, where we began to play Mafia as a group bonding game.
But every time Chae Nayun became the mafia, she was killed in the first town vote. When she took important citizen roles like the doctor or the cop, the mafia killed her on the first or second night. Even when she was a normal citizen, she was killed relatively fast. It wasn’t anyone’s fault but her own.
She was simply terrible at the game, because she didn't know how to hide her emotions.
“…Ah, I haven’t laughed that hard in some time.”
Now, the game had ended and everyone had gone to sleep. I left the cabin and sat down on a bench outside. Chae Nayun’s wronged face kept popping up in my head, and I couldn’t help but laugh. If we pushed her just a bit further, she might have even broken out into tears.
But soon, I stopped my laughter from coming out and turned on my laptop.
Truth Agency had received another request.
[There is a conman called Jerome Müller. He was acting as my asset manager when he took the money and ran. Here are several pictures of his face, his height, and other identifying information. Please tell me where he is.]
It was the second request I ever received. Judging by his German name, he must have been introduced by the first customer.
Since the conman's face and identifying information were all present, it wouldn't be difficult to find his location with the Book of Truth. Without putting it off, I released Stigma’s magic power and opened the Book of Truth.
To find his current location, close to 80% of my current magic power was used. Feeling lightheaded, I staggered slightly.
[It will cost 5,000,000 points.]
I held myself back from asking for 50 million. Surprisingly, I immediately received a message saying the money was deposited. I wrote back exactly what the Book of Truth said.
There was no reply.
I closed the Book of Truth and put away my laptop. Then, I looked into the distance.
Norway’s untouched nature entered my sight. In front of this scenic beauty, a thought suddenly popped up in my head.
“Ah, I stopped smoking….”
I had only just realized. Before I came to this world, I smoked half a pack every day because of stress, but after coming to this world, smoking never even crossed my mind.
“You used to smoke?”
I jolted at the sudden voice.
“W-What! Where are you!?”
“Above you, idiot.”
I immediately looked up. Chae Nayun was peeking her head out from the second-floor window. Since when was she there?
“So you used to smoke? A real delinquent, huh. Do you also have tattoos?”
Her stinging, pitying words made me flinch. My eyes fell on my upper arm. Thankfully, the two streaks of Stigma were covered by my clothes.
“What, you really have them? Let me see.”
Chae Nayun raised her eyebrows as she looked down at me. But soon, she looked back up into the air. It seemed she didn’t see me opening the Book of Truth.
“…By the way, are you confident?”
Chae Nayun asked as she looked out at the horizon.
“Confident? About what?”
“About winning against me.”
Faced with her straightforward question, I retorted arrogantly.
“What about you, are you confident in being able to give up on your bow if you lose?”
“…That’s something that can’t happen, so it never crossed my mind.”
“If you end up losing, are you going to cry?”
“Do you want to cry now?”
“You almost cried today because of Mafia.”
We exchanged blows. I felt like I was the winner, but then I wondered what I was doing with a kid. Being around them, I felt like I was becoming a kid myself.
In the end, I sat back down on the bench and continued watching the scenery.
Only snow and evergreen trees were within my view, but when I looked up at the sky, a whole new scenery emerged. The sky was full of stars. It was my first time seeing such a scene. I began to understand why Chae Nayun opened her window. She was looking at the stars too.
“Oh right, traveling club is apparently canceled this week.”
Chae Nayun suddenly mentioned traveling club’s cancelation, which wasn’t particularly surprising. The same thing had happened in the original story. In the original story, Belbet’s plan succeeded, so Natasha broke up with Oh Hanhyun. But now, she broke up with Oh Hanhyun because Belbet was arrested. Oh Hanhyun should be writhing in the pain of breaking up right about now.
“By the way, have you seen the news article from France?”
“News article? Is it about me?”
“Yeah, Yeonha showed me. They’re calling you the Korean Sherlock who captured the conman of the century.”
“I can’t believe a delinquent who smokes and picks fights with me for no reason is Sherlock.”
“…Just go to sleep.”
“I was going to even if you didn’t tell me!”
Tak. Chae Nayun closed her window shut. I also got up to leave, but then my smartwatch rang.
Chae Nayun had sent me a link to a news article.
[Conman of the Century Captured by Korean Cadet.]
So there was an article like this. I laughed in slight embarrassment and read the translated article.
[Belbet was arrested in a large mansion on the outskirts of Paris. Belbet is a conman who had scammed thousands of people over the past 20 years… Belbet tried to bury his wrongdoings by feigning his death, but his clever methods were seen through by a Cube cadet with keen insight and reasoning…]
Chae Nayun opened her window again, then asked with a voice full of curiosity.
“Hey, what does a cigarette taste like?”
Yoo Jinhyuk came back from his journey. During the past two days, he saw 24 hours of a person’s past. The reason his limit was two days was that he could only hold in his bowel and bladder movement for that long. He ran to the bathroom the moment he woke up.
“Did you find anything out?”
His secretary spoke to the bathroom door.
“Yeah, there were a few strange things.”
“What did you see?”
“The day he entered the orphanage, he spent 23 hours and 55 minutes in front of the orphanage door.”
Yoo Jinhyuk could move around in a virtual reality of someone’s past. However, because he would be in a spirit body formed with magic power, he used up magic power whenever he moved. As such, it was better to stay still if possible.
“Some kid dropped a kid off.”
“…Huh? A kid gave birth to a kid?”
“No, the kid was too young to give birth, but I don’t know too much more. That’s where it ended. His past is strangely dense, so I’ll have to maintain my peak condition if I want to look into it more.”
Pffft, pfft. Unpleasant sounds rang out from the bathroom. The secretary furrowed her brows.
“Anyways, this is looking like it will take a while. I don’t know if I can do it for free.”
“You have to because another request came in.”
The secretary sent a message to his smartwatch. On the screen was a familiar picture.
“What, it’s Kim Hajin again?”
It was the same picture of Kim Hajin as the one his niece sent.
“Yes, but look at the purchaser’s rank.”
“Rank? …Red, Red Diamond?”
Red Diamond was Violet Banquet’s highest rank. At the same time, it was the same rank Yoo Jinhyuk had.
Red Diamond members were able to see the ranks of purchasers and sellers. Furthermore, because only a few Red Diamond members existed, they could recognize each other. Naturally, Yoo Jinhyuk knew who this account belongs to.
[Requesting for this person’s background information. You are not allowed to hurt him. We will deposit 100 million points as a security deposit, then an additional 500 million points when the job is done. (Contract will be canceled if the target finds out or is hurt)]
The brief and succinct sentences and the amount of money they offered immediately hinted at their identity.
Short and to-the-point sentences, the extravagant use of money, using 600 million won to investigate a person’s background….
He was certain.
This was Chameleon Troupe’s account.
Yoo Jinhyuk stared fixedly at the picture of Kim Hajin.
“…There might really be something about him.”
At the first interesting request in some time, Yoo Jinhyuk made a deep smile.
Currently, he was sitting on a toilet.
A week passed by in a breeze and the long-awaited day finally arrived.
Today was the day of my archery duel with Chae Nayun. I had to prove that I wasn’t lying when I said I could beat her in archery with just a month of practice.
As soon as classes ended, I headed to the archery range. Chae Nayun and her group of friends followed after me. Even with a glance, I could see that she brought quite a entourage of people. There had to be at least 70 people, and among them were well-known cadets like Kim Suho, Yoo Yeonha, and Shin Jonghak.
After walking for about 15 minutes, we arrived at an archery range built on an artificial mountain.
The archery range looked similar to a skeet shooting range, but unlike in a shooting range, the lanes were huge. Chae Nayun was standing in a lane about 50 meters away, warming up.
“We’ll be doing the same thing. You practiced archery for the past month, right?”
I retorted lightly.
“I didn’t do it this way. Explain.”
Chae Nayun furrowed her brows.
“Huu. You see that in the distance? The maximum range is 1km. We’ll start from the 100m mark, and the distance will increase by 50m every time we succeed.... Here, let me show you.”
Chae Nayun held up her bow. After clearing her throat, she shouted.
Immediately, a target shot up from the 100m mark. It moved here and there, seemingly trying to dodge Chae Nayun’s arrow. When the target reached its highest point, Chae Nayun fired a wooden arrow. The arrow then pierced through the target cleanly.
She had a textbook posture, and her arrow followed a textbook trajectory.
The spectators cheered. To be honest, my jaws also dropped slightly.
“Why? Is it more difficult than you thought?”
At Chae Nayun’s confident question, I responded with a slight smile.
“No, I was just thinking it was too easy.”
Then, I held out my hand to Chae Nayun.
“Give me your bow and arrow. I don’t have them.”
“…I thought you’d do something like this and prepared them for you.”
Chae Nayun revealed her teeth and growled before looking behind her. Immediately, some guy ran up to her with a bow and a quiver full of arrows.
I put the quiver down and examined the bow first.
This was the first time I was touching a bow. Because a bow was considered a main weapon, I couldn’t rent one from Cube without paying money. Thankfully, the bow in my hand was a traditional bow, so I at least knew how to use it.
I tried pulling on the bowstring and knocking an arrow.
“Is this how you shoot?”
It seemed my Gift couldn’t do anything about my posture.
Chae Nayun glared at me dumbfoundedly. I laughed meekly and muttered.
“I’m kidding. I’m ready, let’s go. Start.”
In any case, I could just copy Chae Nayun’s posture.
Chae Nayun clicked her tongue and looked at her target. She shouted loudly.
Her voice echoed out.Previous Chapter Next Chapter