Soon after a short scream, Chae Nayun jumped out of the tall grass. With a sour expression, she slowly approached me.
“Why were you following me?”
I asked with my gun still pointing at her.
“…Don’t misunderstand. I wasn’t following you.”
Chae Nayun spoke as she scratched her face.
“See, I’m right.”
I put my finger closer to the trigger. Chae Nayun started slightly.
“Well, before that, how did you do that just now?”
Without being intimidated, she asked about the Light Sphere I just created. I see, so my gun wasn’t threatening enough.
“Tell me why you were following me first.”
Chae Nayun furrowed her brows, then finally answered.
“I wasn’t following you, I was following Seung-Ah unni.”
I tilted my head. Why did Yun Seung-Ah’s name pop out now?
“Seung-Ah? The same Yun Seung-Ah that I know?”
“Yeah, but you should really address her more politely.”
I turned around, pretending to fall into thought while taking out the laptop and checking the drone footage.
There were four drones in this area. From one, I could see Yun Seung-Ah sitting on a tree like a cat, looking down at us.
“Hey, can you stop addressing her with just her name?”
I knew that she was here as an overseer and knew who she would be observing.
The first two days should be Kim Suho, then the third and fourth day should be other potential talents.
If things went according to the original story, she should be watching Jayden by now…. Could it be that I was on her list of potential talents?
“Hey, now tell me how you made that Light Sphere.”
“Yeah, I’m the one who made it. Anyways, since you’re here, let’s hunt these together.”
“No~! I know you made it, I’m asking how…”
Chae Nayun couldn’t continue her sentence. Like squids lured to the surface by light, alligator monsters began to emerge from the lake’s depths.
Wizard Alligators, low-intermediate rank grade 5~7 monsters.
These strange alligators with blue skin had the ability to condense magic power in their mouth and shoot it out. This attack was threatening when used in an ambush underwater, but after surfacing like they did now, their danger level was halved.
I pointed at the alligators and made an offer,
Wizard Alligators had tough skin, so it would be difficult for me to kill them with a training handgun. I originally planned to use my Desert Eagle, but I couldn’t now that an overseer was observing me.
“First, tell me how you did— Ah, damn it.”
At that moment, an alligator fired a manaball at Chae Nayun.
I was satisfied.
My luck even helped me with such trivial matters.
Yun Seung-Ah looked down on the ground from a tree.
‘…I was almost discovered.’
When Kim Hajin created a Light Sphere, Yun Seung-Ah was shaken up. If it wasn’t for Chae Nayun, she would have been found out. Of course, Light Sphere was a magic most Heroes could easily use.
But the intensity of the light and the time it was being used were problems. Condensing magic power externally then maintain it, though it sounded easy, it was a fairly difficult technique that even Yun Seung-Ah only mastered on the second term of her first year.
‘I knew that kid wouldn’t write a baseless report.’
Seeing that Kim Hajin had created a Light Sphere of such scale so effortlessly, Yun Seung-Ah smiled in satisfaction.
‘Kim Hajin. I’ll have to add a star above his name.’
The alligator’s mouth opened wide, and I blasted bullets into it. Wadadada. I emptied an entire magazine, a total of 20 bullets, in one second, an incredible speed.
The alligator writhed in pain. However, the injury wasn’t fatal. My attack wasn’t meant to kill, only injure. The real attack came next.
A flash of magic power drawing a line.
A terrifying magic power towering above a sword blade severed the alligator’s mouth. With its body and mouth separated, the alligator slumped down helplessly.
That was Chae Nayun’s sword strike. No alligator could withstand over a single sword strike from her. It was quite literally ‘cutting in two with one stroke of the sword’, a truly awe-inspiring power.
“Did you start using a sword?”
Chae Nayun put away her sword silently. At the same time, her hands were trembling noticeably. Seeing this, I closed my mouth. Currently, the unpleasant sensation of cutting through flesh should remain on her hands.
I didn’t know what that felt like. Not knowing it made me afraid of it more.
“…Since there’s four, we’ll each scan two. I’ll take this one and that one.”
I scanned two alligators with the exam smartwatch. Out of conscience, I chose the two smaller ones.
Chae Nayun then scanned the two alligators, and then the hunt ended.
Now, there was no reason for us to be together.
“Since we’re done here, you should go.”
“…You really don’t want to tell me, huh. Is it so hard to tell me how you made that Light Sphere?”
Chae Nayun pouted and grumbled.
With a small smile, I answered her.
“You’ll get hurt if you find out.”
Chae Nayun frowned.
That was the truth. If I wanted to explain Stigma’s magic power, I had to explain that this world was a world within a novel.
“…What nonsense is that?”
“Just go. I came here first, so you go that way.”
I pointed to a direction, then started walking the other way.
Chae Nayun seemed to glare at my back, then finally began to walk… no, stomp away.
After splitting up from Chae Nayun, I moved busily.
Using the Thousand-Mile Eyes fully, I searched for low-intermediate rank grade 7~9 monsters, then killed them. Wolf, deer, octopus…. In just two hours, I obtained 15 points.
I stopped, feeling a presence from the tall grass behind me.
It wasn’t that I noticed her presence. The person who was tailing me this entire time revealed her presence on purpose. It seemed she finally wanted to show herself.
She must have finished observing me.
I patiently waited.
Soon, she flew through the trees like a butterfly, then landed about 50 meters in front of me.
Yun Seung-Ah spoke with a bright smile.
“This is the first time since you turned me down, right?”
As a greeting, she brought up what happened at our last meeting. I had cold-heartedly(?) rejected her business card.
“…Right, but what is it so suddenly?”
“Ah, I’m sorry. It really is a bit sudden, isn’t it?”
Yun Seung-Ah nodded in understanding, then continued.
“You see, I’ve been going around to different cadets, giving them a special event. You know, to also test their skill.”
Yun Seung-Ah pointed at the nametag on her chest.
“Would you like to try taking it?”
Although she might not have meant it, her words and the positioning of her finger was perfect for bringing up a misunderstanding.
Unaware of my thoughts, Yun Seung-Ah continued.
“The event is simple. I’ll stay here, only using my left hand. If you can make me move even a single step, or if you land an attack other than on my left hand, I’ll give you this nametag.”
“Yes, I’ll bet my guild on this promise.”
If she was betting her guild, that was more of a vow than a promise.
Thus, I rubbed my chin and pondered.
That nametag was worth 200 points, and that should undoubtedly place me in the first place.
In that case, what could I gain from getting first place on the final exam?
First, I would gain quite a bit of SP as guilds and Djinns would take notice of me.
Furthermore, Kim Suho, who was supposed to get the first place, might be encouraged to try harder…. No, no no no.
I was forgetting the most important thing, and that was how to take Yun Seung-Ah’s nametag in the first place.
“I’ll stay here. Make your decision. You can challenge me, or you can turn back.”
Yun Seung-Ah added as though she read my thoughts.
“It’s quite an unexpected event.”
As I said that, I fired at her without warning. But Yun Seung-Ah instantly struck down the bullets, using just her left hand as she promised. It almost looked like the bullets were plastic straws.
“…That was pretty prickly, far more powerful than what a training handgun should be capable of. Looks like your Gift really is related to guns.”
In that previous exchange, Yun Seung-Ah didn’t coat her hand with magic power. Right, she had struck down the bullets purely with her physical ability. Most likely, she wanted to confirm the bullets’ power.
For the record, the reason the bullets were stronger wasn’t my Gift, but because of the invisible Aether. By adhering to the training handgun, Aether had strengthened its power.
At Yun Seung-Ah’s words, I pulled the trigger ten more times. Ten bullets flew at her almost simultaneously at different parts of her body. However, Yun Seung-Ah struck them all down without moving a single step. She didn’t use her magic power either.
“That was fast. I thought they were coming at me simultaneously.”
Yun Seung-Ah muttered leisurely.
This…. I might actually have a chance. The handicap she put on herself was that critical. Since I also had two knives, perhaps I could try a feint.
With that in mind, I took out the two knives hanging by my waist, then stuck Stigma’s magic power around their handles.
“Oh~ right. You used a sword before you switched to a gun. Using a gun and sword at the same time, that’s smart.”
Bothered by her commentary, I threw the knives at her. One towards her chest, and the other towards her face. Then, I fired. Two knives and twenty bullets, I wondered how Yun Seung-Ah would deal with it.
Yun Seung-Ah first struck down the two knives, then took the bullets with her body by mitigating the bullets’ impact. At that moment, however, the two knives sprung back up.
Hurriedly repositioning themselves after being flung away, the knives flew towards her heels.
She said she would only use her left hand, and her heels were too far for her hands to reach….
However, to my astonishment, she released magic power with her left hand and completely shattered the knives.
My attack ended in vain.
However, Yun Seung-Ah’s expression was that of excitement.
“Interesting. You used magic power to change the knives’ trajectory. What technique is that?”
You’re like an onion, Hajin-ssi—!
I ignored the last bit of compliment and scratched my neck.
There was nothing I could do.
Unless a lightning bolt or a meteor suddenly fell on Yun Seung-Ah, this event was impossible to accomplish. Even luck couldn’t cover an absurd difference in skill.
I put my gun back in my holster. But Yun Seung-Ah seemed to have misunderstood my intention as the magic power on her left hand became even sharper.
“What mysterious technique are you trying to show this time~?”
With her hand-blade held out, she smiled.
Yun Seung-Ah was still hungry, still unsatisfied. Her desire to collect talent was truly admirable.
However, I planned to mercilessly betray her hopes.
After collecting the shattered remains of my knives, I turned back without regret. Then, I began to walk back the way I came from.
Once I took about five steps, Yun Seung-Ah’s dazed voice rang out.
I continued to walk away, and then she took a step forward.
“Where are you going…?”
At that moment!
I turned around.
“…You said you’d only use your left hand.”
I pointed at her right foot, then spoke.
“But you just used your right foot.”
Immediately, Yun Seung-Ah’s face became frozen cold.
“I’m kidding, hahaha.”
I chuckled and turned back.
In truth, I was only half-joking and planned to argue with her, but because Yun Seung-Ah’s eyes were too glaringly intimidating, I just gave up.
‘…Let’s just go back to the tent and eat with Rachel.’
The fourth day.
“Rachel-ssi, stay with me for today.”
During breakfast, I told Rachel.
Rachel tilted her head in the middle of eating.
“The test will end soon.”
Today was ‘that’ day.
It was something she should have naturally faced with Kim Suho, but because Rachel was teamed up with me, I had to bring her there.
This was a very important event as this was where Rachel would obtain a clue to her enlightenment.
“Everyone’s pretty crazed. It’ll be too dangerous alone.”
In reality, today was the last day as the exam would end at 9 A.M. tomorrow.
“You have to protect me, Rachel-ssi.”
I spoke again. Rachel was about to nod when she suddenly paused, then tilted her head again.
“You didn’t hear wrong.”
I grinned and got up.
Butterfly Seedling. It was dangerous for me to even get near it. If I accidentally let its root touch me… although I wouldn’t instantly die thanks to Aether, I would undoubtedly lose one or two organs.
“I need you to protect me.”