The next task on the Guild Experience Program was deployment.
A deployment referred to Heroes intercepting monsters that invaded civilian territory.
However, such occurrences were rare in Seoul, so we took a Portal to Essence of the Strait’s Gangwondo branch, where several deployments happened every day.
“Park Sangho here. I just arrived in Chuncheon If there’s an incident nearby, let me know first. Ah, I have cadets with me, so anything above intermediate rank grade 4 will be difficult.”
Park Sangho let the branch know that we arrived, then turned towards us. With a big smile, he spoke.
“While we wait for the deployment order to come, let’s eat. I know a good restaurant nearby.”
Park Sangho then led us to a fancy, traditional Korean restaurant.
“Four people, please.”
We were led inside by an employee. While we were waiting for our food to come, Park Sangho glanced at me and asked.
“Hajin-ssi, how tall are you?”
“Me? I’m 174.”
Chae Nayun then cut in.
“So not that different from me.”
“What? I’m a lot taller than you. You’re 166.”
According to my setting, Chae Nayun was 166.3 exactly. The reason I needlessly attached a decimal unit was because I was 174.3. Most main characters had 0.3 attached to their heights.
It was something I said thoughtlessly, but Chae Nayun made a strange expression in response. She narrowed her eyes, then asked.
“How do you know how tall I am?”
Hearing that, I froze. There really was no explainable reason for me to have her height memorized, not unless I was a stalker. I only blurted out thoughtlessly because Chae Nayun poked at my pride.
“Ca, cadet profiles are public.”
“Yeah, but still….”
Then, the door opened and thankfully interrupted this awkward conversation.
The server began to put down a tableful of dishes. Korean-style braised short ribs, grilled fish, steamed egg, octopus sashimi… my jaws dropped at the sight of this kingly lunch table. On the other hand, everyone else seemed used to such a sight as they looked completely indifferent.
“Now, let’s eat.”
With Park Sangho words, I picked up my chopsticks.
I was focused on savoring the taste of each dish, while the other three leisurely ate as they talked to each other.
“Do you have a girlfriend, Sangho Hero-nim?”
“I don’t. What’s your ideal type, Nayun-ssi?”
“I… like tall guys, so he would have to be at least 185.”
Chae Nayun’s words struck me particularly hard. I didn’t think it was bad or anything since it really was no different than how guys liked beautiful women.
But there was one problem….
“Yeah, my ideal type is someone who’s tall.”
She kept staring at me as she said it.
“He would have to be at least 15cm taller than me. Mm… yeah, 15 cm. 20cm would be too much.”
What did she want me to do about it?
When I furrowed my brows, Chae Nayun stealthily looked away.
In any case, while we were continuing with our meal… a voice rang out from Park Sangho’s smartwatch.
—Deployment order for high-intermediate rank Hero, Park Sangho. The coordinate is…
Park Sangho got up in the middle of eating. Yoo Yeonha, Chae Nayun, and I quickly followed after him.
After running out of the restaurant without even paying, Park Sangho kicked off the ground and stormed forth. Yoo Yeonha and Chae Nayun chased after him similarly.
However, I was the only one lagging behind. I was running as fast as I could, but I quickly fell behind from the rest.
“Jesus, is this a wuxia novel? They’re inhuman….”
They were practically flying. I realized just how lacking my stats were.
I pondered as I raced forward.
It was impossible to catch up to their physical power, which they built with 10 years of hard work, in just six months.
I continued to run without stopping to rest. Thankfully, my Thousand-Mile Eyes kept an eye on them, so I didn’t have to worry about getting lost.
After about three minutes, a fight broke out. Five limestone golems shot up from the middle of the street. Limestone golems were at least low-intermediate rank grade 5, meaning they posed a great threat to civilians.
They were trying to break buildings with their huge arms. However, a whip flew in, restraining their arms.
It was Yoo Yeonha.
The golems’ gazes fell on her. Enraged, they tried to cut Yoo Yeonha’s whip, but to no avail. Meanwhile, Park Sangho charged in with his spear, thrusting out at a golem’s core.
…I was still running to the scene of the fight.
After running at my top speed for over 10 minutes, I finally became close enough to see them with my naked eyes. A new golem was approaching Chae Nayun.
The golem was short, being about 2.2 meters tall, making it look somewhat humanlike.
Chae Nayun put her bow down and pulled her sword out. She seemed to be thinking that she could take it on with her sword since it was short for a golem.
However, limestone golems had a special ability that differentiated them from other golems – self-compression.
The smaller they were, the studier and stronger they got.
Chae Nayun’s sword clashed with the limestone golem’s fist, limestone dust scattering into the air.
Chae Nayun fought normally. After parrying the golem’s fist to the side, she aimed for the limestone golem’s weak point, its ankle.
However, the limestone golem responded to her attack smartly, kicking Chae Nayun with its foot, an uncommon attack for a golem to make.
Chae Nayun was covered in a qi reinforcement, but it was a golem’s attack. Chae Nayun fell back, grabbing her stomach with her hand.
The limestone golem didn’t give her any time to rest. It bolted towards her in a flash, then slammed its fist down on her head. Chae Nayun froze, struck by her fear of close-ranged combat and taken aback by her lack of combat experience.
When the golem’s fist was about to make contact with Chae Nayun… something grabbed her by the waist.
It took me a moment to realize that it was… Aether.
Aether coiled around her waist, then pulled her towards me. It must have read my mind, which was screaming, ‘I need to help her—‘.
Before I could fully comprehend what happened, I found Chae Nayun in my embrace. I stared down at her silently.
To be completely honest, I had a brain lag.
Aether… did the right thing. If Chae Nayun got hit, she would have been critically injured. It was just that… Aether did things a bit awkwardly.
Chae Nayun swallowed hard.
Feeling like I had to say something, I did.
“…If you’re going to freeze up in crucial moments, don’t get near the enemy in the first place.”
To be honest, I wasn’t in any position to say something like that. After all, I chose a gun because I was scared of close ranged combat.
“Just fight from afar. Your sword can get longer than a spear.”
Chae Nayun’s Gift was ‘Sea of Magic Power’.
Her Gift made her innate mana capacity several tens of times greater than an average Hero.
Of course, even though her mana capacity was large, it took a long time to completely fill it up. Even if she did, there was a limit to how much she could take out at a time.
However, when a sword was used as a conductor of magic power, this limit disappeared.
Although it didn’t look all that impressive because of her lack of experience, this was the true reason Chae Nayun had to be a swordsman.
“…Let, let me go.”
Chae Nayun pushed me away. Tucking her hair behind her ear, she held up her sword once again.
“I was just caught off guard last time. Take a good look.”
Chae Nayun spoke confidently.
…At that moment, I got the feeling that someone was looking at me. Somewhere… above.
I raised my head.
On top of a nearby building, I found a girl looking down at me.
Our eyes met. For some reason, I felt like I knew her. She looked just like how I imagined her to be.
Chae Nayun charged forward with a strange shout. Startled, I turned my gaze, and by the time I looked back up, the girl was gone.
I felt a bit sorry at the girl who disappeared.
She was the antagonist who was supposed to be the original owner of Aether, ‘Tomer’.
“Hey! Help me!”
I could hear Chae Nayun shouting.
Chae Nayun managed to sever one of the golem’s arm and a leg but was grabbed by the golem’s other hand, she was dangling down like a piñata.
“H-He, help! Ah, uwaaat!”
Chae Nayun screamed for help, but before anyone could react, the golem flung her away like a toy he got tired of using.
“Kuuuu~ I’m so exhausted.”
On the other hand, in Essence of the Strait’s analysis room, Yi Jin-Ah stretched after two hours of wrestling with her computer.
Then, a colleague approached her and spoke.
“Hard, right? You should really just make the office clerks work on that.”
Yi Jin-Ah was currently working on analyzing a Dungeon’s mana density based on the Dungeon’s formation and inhabiting monsters. She needed to find the spots where the mana density would suddenly change, as well as the possible location of traps.
It was a tiring work that required a full week’s worth of time even with a team of office clerks.
“I just need to estimate one last variable. Plus, I’m smarter than them.”
Heroes were superior to ordinary people in every aspect. Yi Jin-Ah believed it was because Heroes inherited superior genes. She was also a highly-regarded Hero when it came to analysis.
“You said it was a large-scale Dungeon, right?”
“And you’re doing that alone? You’re really something….”
The colleague made a meaningful nod, then turned back. Then, he spotted a piece of paper on her desk.
“Hey, what’s this?”
Yi Jin-Ah glanced at the paper.
“I don’t know.”
“Isn’t it yours? Ah, but you don’t usually do calculations with a pen.”
“…What are you talking about?”
Because her colleague was scanning the paper with eyes full of curiosity, Yi Jin-Ah quickly snatched it out of his hands. On a standard printer paper, several calculations and sentences explaining the procedure were written down.
“Oh, he wrote this.”
“Some kid who’s apparently rank 1 in theory. Ha, looks like he managed to write something down.”
“You should take a closer look at it. It looked pretty good.”
She snorted as she began to read the paper closely.
It wasn’t out of curiosity, but purely to feel a sense of superiority. In her mind, there was a countless number of cadets who thought they were special with only mediocre knowledge.
However, Yi Jin-Ah’s face stiffened as she continued down the paper.
Calculations were clean and concise, and every deduction he made was flawless and persuasive. But what caught her attention the most was his creative method of approaching the problem.
By the time she reached the end, she could only say those two words.
It was because the final conclusion and the critical step to reaching that conclusion were missing. It was an unpleasant feeling, kind of like being interrupted in the middle of singing the highlight of a song.
“Where’s the rest?”
Yi Jin-Ah flipped the paper over, even while knowing that nothing was there.
“Let me see that too.”
Her colleague reached to grab the paper.
Yi Jin-Ah shoved his hand away, then carefully put the paper in her pocket.
“Hey, you said it wasn’t yours. I found it, so it’s mine.”
“Please, I requested him to do this for me.”
“Ah, I’m so exhausted.”
I came back to the dorm around 9 P.M.
Evandel was sleeping on the couch, seemingly having gotten tired from watching TV. I picked her up and put her on my bed. After putting the blanket over her, I came back out.
I thought about showering and sleeping early, but then I remembered something important. I headed to the kitchen, then took out the Butterfly Seedling Dust from the drawer.
It was still glowing with a brilliant, blue light.
There was a lot more than I thought. There seemed to be enough for three usages….
“It really might be okay for me to use some….”
I tried dividing it up into three clumps.
Just as I expected, each clump had enough to fulfill its role.
Then to strike the iron while it’s hot, I should just use it now.
I already thought of what to use it on.
It was a waste to use it on myself. My laptop could view my status, and I had no hidden potential.
What I had in mind was an item, Aether.
I condensed Aether into a ball a bit smaller than a soccer ball, then placed it on the table. Next, I grabbed a clump of the Butterfly Seedling Dust.
All I had to do was sprinkle Aether with it.
With anticipation, I dropped the dust on Aether.
Just like snow, the blue light fell on the ball, melting into it. Soon, the dust began to shine in Aether’s transparent core.
Now, I just had to wait until the light fully spread.
At that moment, my smartwatch rang.
[Hey, thank you for today. By the way…]
The sender was Chae Nayun. I stared at her message, waiting for her to finish her sentence.
Ten minutes passed by. Chae Nayun still didn’t say anything. Tired of waiting, I messaged her first.
Chae Nayun replied instantly.
I also replied instantly.
She said the same thing.
[Just go to sleep.]
[ㅋㅋㅋ No you ㅋㅋㅋ]
The conversation ended just like that.
Looking at this string of messages, I suddenly felt somewhat moved.
After starting out as an extra with no connection to the main story, I managed to come this far. If I had to describe myself now, I was undoubtedly one of the supporting characters. A supporting character with no defined role, one that could change at any moment…
While I was feeling a bit sentimental, I received another message.
[Next Friday, there will be a shareholder meeting for Packhorse Master.]
“…Looks like they’re going to announce their next move.”
With Packhorse Master conquering Suwon Royal Devil’s Nest, it wouldn’t be long until I was swimming in money.
I received another message from an unknown number.
“What’s up with today? I’m suddenly getting flooded with messages.”
This time, I furrowed my brows the moment I saw the message. It was from a certain rude individual.
[Um, Hajin cadet-nim? This is Yi Jin-Ah, you saw me during the day. Can we talk?]
Would you if you were me?
That’s what I wanted to write back, but she immediately called me. I didn’t pick up. Then, I immediately received another message.
[Ah, right, you’re coming to the guild tomorrow anyways. Let’s talk then.]
No, a day was enough to see how a guild operated. I had things to do, like looking after Evandel and preparing for the next arc in the story.
I pulled out Park Sangho’s business card, which I got from him earlier in the day, and messaged him.
[Sangho Hero-nim, I’ll be quitting the Guild Experience Program.]
Park Sangho sent an immediate reply.
I was about to tell him it was for a personal problem, but I got a better idea and changed my mind. I could be petty if I wanted.
[Someone told me to quit, telling me that I’m only a rank 934 and didn’t belong. I thought I should give the opportunity to another cadet if I was only going to be berated during my time there… sorry.]
ㅋㅋㅋ is like “LOL”, but can be a bit more subtle. Korean people jokingly say that one ㅋ is sarcastic laughing, two ㅋ is normal laughing, three ㅋ is laughing hard, four or more is dying laughing, etc.