Chapter 57. Bet (3)

When Chae Nayun easily struck the target 200 meters away, the spectators broke into applause. Chae Nayun was an amazing archer. That’s what everyone felt, including Kim Suho. He looked around at other archers spectating the match. Because it was an archery duel, there were ten or so cadets with bows hanging on their backs.

“Chae Nayun’s posture is amazing.”

“She’s been doing it for a long time.”

“Yeah, but still, how can it be so perfect?”

They began to comment on the match. Kim Suho, Shin Jonghak, Yoo Yeonha, and Yi Yeonghan, who didn’t know much about archery, naturally listened in on their explanations.
At that moment, Kim Hajin fired. His first arrow missed the mark by a mile.

“The hell…. His posture is completely off.”

Kim Suho placed his ear on the commentators and his eyes on the archery duel.
Kim Hajin fired a second shot, which missed once more.

“Er, maybe he really didn’t practice.”

“No, he changed his bow’s direction at the last second. He missed on purpose.”

“Huh? Why would he do that?”

“I don’t know.”

Then, Kim Hajin fired his third arrow. This time, his arrow hit the target perfectly.

“See? He missed his second shot on purpose.”

“Okay, but why?”

“Fuck man, I don’t know!”

…For now, Kim Suho continued to watch their duel.

“But I’ve never seen him before at the archery range.”

At that moment, one of the cadets muttered.
There were two facilities for sharpshooter cadets – the shooting range and the archery range.
More often than not, the shooting range was used by cadets to practice archery with magic power, while the archery range was used for pure, traditional archery practice. Furthermore, there was a limited number of archery ranges that first years could use, so most first year sharpshooters had seen other sharpshooters' faces at least once.

“Have you seen him?”

“No, I haven’t.”

“Maybe he comes after midnight?”

“No, that’s when I'm here, from midnight to 3, and I've never seen him.”

Kim Suho was at a loss for words. Did Kim Hajin really not practice at all?
But Kim Hajin’s archery was too keen and quick for that to be true. His arrows shot after his target like a starving wild beast.

Soon, the archers began to compare their practice hours to discuss this mystery.
Their busy conversation came to a stop by the time the distance reached 400 meters. Kim Hajin was shooting too well.
One of the cadets muttered in a daze.

“450-meter mark is my record…”

But soon, Kim Hajin easily surpassed the 450-meter mark. The noisy crowd slowly began to quiet down, and sounds of hard swallowing increased.

“Ah, Chae Nayun missed.”

And at 500 meters, Chae Nayun missed for the first time. On the other hand, Kim Hajin succeeded just as easily as before.
The same thing happened on the 550-meter mark. When Chae Nayun failed a second time, Kim Suho realized she would lose.
Now, it was the 600-meter mark.
Kim Suho could see Kim Hajin saying something to Chae Nayun, but because they were too far away, he couldn’t hear them. Curious, he focused his magic power on his ears.

—But with a bow, you won’t be able to kill a single Djinn, much less get revenge for your older brother.

Kim Suho frowned.

“What is he…”

Perhaps because of what he said, Chae Nayun failed again on the 600-meter mark.
Chae Nayun immediately gave Kim Hajin a fierce glare, but Kim Hajin ignored her and concentrated on shooting.

“Whoa, what the hell!?”

At that moment, other archers exclaimed in shock. Kim Hajin had shot down three targets at 600-meter, 650-meter, and 700-meter marks. Kim Suho had to admit, Kim Hajin’s technique was like a form of art. But seemingly unsatisfied, Kim Hajin continued. Kim Suho stared at him with mixed feelings.

On the other hand, Yoo Yeonha was watching Kim Hajin in satisfaction. His performance was exactly what she expected to see. Furthermore, she felt what he showed today was only a tiny fraction of his real power. She couldn’t help but wonder how much of his real strength he was hiding.

“…What is he?”

“I don’t know.”

“It must be a Specialized Gift.”

A nameless archer put out an idea. Hearing the word Specialized Gift, Yoo Yeonha strained her ears.
Specialized Gift. Just like its name suggested, it was a Gift specialized to a certain role.
Although it wasn’t a showy Gift like Kim Suho’s or Shin Jonghak’s, Specialized Gifts stood at the peak of the field they specialized. Furthermore, most people with Specialized Gifts had an additional Gift.
Because of this characteristic of Specialized Gifts, they were rare and valuable.

“Then there’s no way Chae Nayun can beat him in pure archery. Not unless she uses magic power.”

“But Kim Hajin uses a gun. It was determined that his Gift was the greatest gun-related Gift.”

“Maybe his Specialized Gift is for bows and his other Gift is for guns.”

“Wow, then imagine if they were both for bows.”

“That wouldn’t be fair. If that was the case, he would be in the same league as Jin Seyeon.”

Hearing that, the archers began to nod in agreement. For the record, Jin Seyeon was Korea’s Master rank Hero, titled the Divine Archer.

At that moment, Kim Hajin turned around after hitting the 900-meter mark target. Facing him, the archers suddenly froze.

“….”

In the dead silence that followed, Kim Hajin walked past the crowd of spectators. Kim Suho eyed him as he walked by, and Kim Hajin did the same expressionlessly.
Soon, Kim Hajin completely passed by Kim Suho, and Kim Suho stared at Chae Nayun who was left standing alone in the huge lane.
Kim Suho began to walk towards her.

“Nayun.”

Chae Nayun’s body jolted. Standing an appropriate distance away, Kim Suho picked out the words to comfort her.

“Um, I heard from the other guys, it seems Kim Hajin has a Specialized—”

“It’s fine.”

But Chae Nayun interrupted him.

“I’m… I’m not in the mood to talk. And Specialized Gift or not, that means there is a difference in our talents.”

“Nayun, don’t be so hard on yourself…”

“Just leave.”

The entire time, Chae Nayun refused to turn around.

“…Okay.”

In the end, Kim Suho returned helplessly.
At the same time, he caught sight of a man staring at him with a big smile on his face.

“Haha, you should know your place. Move over.”

Shin Jonghak sneered at him and began to walk towards Chae Nayun. However, Yoo Yeonha carefully grabbed Shin Jonghak’s sleeve, attempting to hold him back.

“Jonghak, I think you should leave her alone for now.”

“No, I’m different.”

Despite Yoo Yeonha’s dissuasion, he confidently walked up to Chae Nayun.

“Chae Nayun, I think you’re…”

“I SAID LEAVE!”

Chae Nayun’s thunderous roar startled Shin Jonghak.

“C-Chae Nayun? I’m not Kim Suho, I’m Shin Jonghak…”

Somewhat in a daze, he placed his hand on Chae Nayun’s shoulder. Chae Nayun immediately smacked his hand away.

“I SAID LEAVE! SCREW OFF!”

“…Eh? Uh, um… uh, yeah.”

Shin Jonghak staggered backward as though his soul was sucked out.

“Didn’t I tell you?”

“….”

By the time Shin Jonghak returned to Yoo Yeonha with a devastated face, Chae Nayun was running into the forest.
Yoo Yeonha watched her leave with a grin on her face, happy to see Chae Nayun running away after being completely stomped.

But separately from her heated emotions, her cold reasoning was working on a plan.

Helping someone when they were down was the most effective way of making connections.

Chae Nayun had a grade 1 priority in Yoo Yeonha’s Connection Management List. Just being a fourth generation chaebol was enough to give her that grade, but her family conglomerate wasn’t one that ran a guild. In other words, she was the greatest connection she could bring into her guild.

“…Don’t worry, I’ll console her.”

Yoo Yeonha began to run after Chae Nayun.

**


Not long afterwards, she discovered Chae Nayun sitting crouched down behind a bush. With her face buried between her knees, she was shaking up and down.

“Nayun?”

When Yoo Yeonha called her, she trembled but didn’t respond. Yoo Yeonha quietly sat down next to her, and Chae Nayun waddled to the side in response.

“….”

Yoo Yeonha didn’t say anything. She only occasionally signaled to Chae Nayun that she was still there, all the while waiting patiently.
She had to wait for a fairly long time. The wind blew, leaves fell, and the sky began to grow dark.
After about 30 minutes, Chae Nayun raised her head, wiping her tears as she sobbed.

“Yoo Yeonha.”

She then called Yoo Yeonha, who responded with a casual, tender voice.

“Yeah?”

Chae Nayun opened her mouth within the forest’s silence.

“Did you guys… not hear him?”

“Hear what?”

“He… mentioned Oppa.”

“…Really? We were too far.”

Yoo Yeonha was genuinely surprised. To Chae Nayun, her older brother was a bottom line that shouldn’t be crossed, the reverse scale of a dragon that shouldn't be touched. Every cadet took special care not to mention him even as an accident….

“Yeah, that bastard.… Haa, that was the second time.”

Chae Nayun couldn’t even continue her sentence. She was burning up from a mixture of embarrassment and rage. She wanted to let it out, chase after him and punish him, but because she was so thoroughly crushed, she didn’t have the strength to do so.

“Mm….”

Seeing this Chae Nayun, Yoo Yeonha scratched her neck. Things had gotten more complicated than she anticipated.
Yoo Yeonha disliked Chae Nayun, but she also wanted to make her into her ally. However, the same could be said for Kim Hajin, and he was even a benefactor who saved her life.
Rather than choosing between one of them, she told herself that the best thing to do was to mend their relationship.
Of course, she also wondered why Kim Hajin would say something like that.

“Haa.”

Yoo Yeonha sighed and began to contemplate on what to say.
And exactly three minutes later, she thought up a good idea.
Kuhum. After clearing her throat, Yoo Yeonha spoke.

“…It’s understandable.”

“What?”

“Your Oppa is alive.”

“…Are you crazy?”

Chae Nayun glared at Yoo Yeonha as though she was ready to strangle her at any moment. Yoo Yeonha calmly received her aggressive gaze, then carefully continued her sentence.

“Did you know? People feel a sense of kinship with others who share similar wounds.”

_Sssss. _The forest’s leaves shook.
Chae Nayun looked confused. Yoo Yeonha continued.

“But when the depths of those wounds are different… so, if someone who should feel less pain is crying louder, the person with the deeper wound might find it unsightly.”

Yoo Yeonha recalled the message she received from Yoo Jinhyuk three days ago.

[It’ll take longer to look into him. But know this, there is something about Kim Hajin.]

‘There is something about Kim Hajin.
’From this meaningful sentence, Yoo Yeonha obtained assurance of her hypothesis. Kim Hajin’s parents were killed by someone, and Kim Hajin was searching for the person or group who had ruined his happy life.

“What are you talking about? I…”

“That person, he’s an orphan. Probably because of a reason similar to yours.”

“…What?”

Chae Nayun’s eyes widened.
It was a reaction Yoo Yeonha expected. Chae Nayun was someone who didn’t care about other people’s past. In a way, it was a defensive mechanism, since if she dug up others’ past, they could also dig up her own.

“Don’t you know that people are harassing him about it?”

Chae Nayun looked completely oblivious. In the first place, it wasn’t something she could imagine. From her perspective, people who made fun of others for losing their parents couldn’t exist.
Chae Nayun swallowed hard and asked again.

“He endured it?”

“…That’s the only thing you’re curious about?”

Yoo Yeonha furrowed her brows as though she was tired.

“Kim Hajin is being harassed because of you. Because you told Jonghak.”

“T-That’s….”

“Nayun.”

Yoo Yeonha collected her breath before continuing.

“…You're not the only one with a painful past.”

At that moment, Chae Nayun’s face drew a blank.
Chae Nayun thought back to the day she talked to Shin Jonghak because of what Kim Hajin said about her older brother.
That was when harassments and bad rumors about Kim Hajin began. She was the source of it, yet she didn’t do anything to stop it. She had purposely ignored it, something she couldn’t deny.
Still, she truly didn’t expect that those delinquents would even dig up his past…

“K-Kuhum.”

Seeing Chae Nayun’s soulless face, Yoo Yeonha held back her laughter by clearing her throat. This was enough. Investing any more time and emotion was something that didn’t fit her personality.

“Then I’m leaving now. I'm only a third party in all this, so talking about deep things will only cause misunderstandings. You can think the rest for yourself, Nayun.”

Yoo Yeonha gently stroked Chae Nayun’s shoulder and turned around to leave.

“…Uh, yeah.”

Chae Nayun’s voice was much weaker than before.
Yoo Yeonha felt like she gained points from both of them. Satisfied, she went back with a light heart.

“….”

In the vast, silent forest, Chae Nayun was left all alone.She stared into the distance blankly.
Chwaaaa— 
From the darkness, cool wind blew and brushed against the forest's leaves.
Seeing leaves shaking and falling, Chae Nayun took time to self-reflect.


**

“…Haha, you sure got big.”

With a big grin, I looked down at Evandel’s Seed. The way it quivered to absorb blood was surprisingly cute.

I already knew what the seed would look like once it hatched. At first, she would look like a 3 to 4-year-old child.
But Evandel was a very special witch. Temporarily transforming herself into a cat or a dog shouldn’t be a problem for her.

“Should I go with a cat? Or a dog…?”

That was my worry. Raising a child at Cube was absolutely not allowed, but it was okay to own pets. In fact, Cube encouraged cadets to own pets as they supposedly helped with cadets’ mental health. There was even a pet adoption center inside Cube.

“When will you hatch?”

I gently rubbed the seed’s belly. The seed quivered, almost as if it was ticklish.

“Haha, you’re so cute.”

I suddenly remembered Mong, a dog I used to own. He only liked Mom and Dad and never gave me a glance, but at this point, I missed everyone from Earth.
At that moment… an alert popped up on the laptop I had open on my desk.

[You obtained 253 SP.]
[An incredible luck applies to your human relationship!]
[Narrow Escape from Death (2/9) – A special stat, accumulation of luck, becomes partly unlocked!]

“…What’s this?”

It was an alert I couldn’t understand.

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