6:40 P.M., Clancy Hall.
Boss was still sitting next to me.
She was busily chewing on a chocolate that she got from the waiter. She must really like it as her eyes were shining brightly.
Looking at her from the corner of my eyes, I thought about how I should respond.
The ‘White Crystal’ would be revealed soon.
That was something that could not fall into the Djinns’ hands. However, I wasn’t strong enough to prevent them from carrying out their plan, and even if I was, I shouldn’t interfere and draw unwanted attention on myself.
Roton Corporation was one of the most corrupt corporations in my setting. Although there were no Djinns among their executives, many of them were so vile that Djinns would have been better off being in their positions.
No matter how I thought about it, it was best for the Chameleon Troupe to take the crystal like in the original story.
Suddenly, Boss called the waiter. What did she want now? I focused my attention on her action.
The waiter came up to her and spoke politely.
“Do you have any more of that chocolate you gave me before?”
Boss asked as she smacked her lips.
“Yes, here you go.”
“No, not one. I think I’ll be satisfied with about three.”
While Boss was craving chocolates, Chae Nayun and Kim Suho returned. They looked around for their seats, then tilted their heads when they saw me.
They then walked up to me.
“Hajin, who is that next to you?”
Kim Suho and Chae Nayun didn’t yet know about Chameleon Troupe’s Boss.
“Ah, she’s someone I know, her name is Li Xiaopeng. She’s a high-intermediate rank Hero. We met coincidentally.”
I put my hand on Boss’ shoulder, pretending to be friendly.
Boss was still munching on a chocolate.
“Nyam. Ah, mm, right. I’m Li Xiaopeng.”
“Ah, yes, it’s nice to meet you.”
Chae Nayun greeted her a bit awkwardly, while Kim Suho bowed respectfully.
“This is Chae Nayun, and this is Kim Suho—”
“I already know. They are famous cadets.”
Just like Boss said, the two of them were so well known that it would be strange for anyone in this business to not know them.
After finishing their introductions, Kim Suho and Chae Nayun sat down side by side.
“You guys are here too~?”
A soft voice flowed towards us like a current of warm air.
It was Kim Junwoo. He smiled, making his already small eyes smaller.
His narrowed eyes landed on Boss.
At the same time, Boss’ eyes also landed on Kim Junwoo.
They seemed to see through each other’s strength at first glance.
Pointing at Boss, Kim Junwoo’s voice had gotten a bit calmer. Boss only stared at him without giving him an answer. As a result, Chae Nayun spoke up instead.
“This is senior Li Xiaopeng, a high-intermediate rank Hero, and Kim Hajin’s acquaintance. By the way, Li Xiaopeng-ssi, how do you know Kim Hajin? You’re really pretty, so how did Kim Hajin…”
“You’re right, she’s a beauty…. Um, may I ask how old you are?”
Kim Junwoo asked.
Boss was surprisingly young, twenty four. She was only seven years older than Kim Suho, and she was younger than my real age. However, Boss had a bit of a complex about her young age.
“…Mm, yes, well, I’ll take my leave. Bye kids. Call me if anything happens.”
“Okay, see you later, Oppa. Let’s grab some food after this.”
Kim Junwoo withdrew easily.
“I have to go on my guard duty, so….”
Not long afterward, Boss also got up and left. Then, Yoo Yeonha and Oh Hanhyun came over as if to replace her.
“By the way, are other club members not coming anymore?”
“Probably not. They’ll be third years soon. The second semester of the second year is one of the busiest times for cadets. I’m sure they’re busy making all sorts of preparations.”
Listening in on their conversation on one ear, I thought about the major Djinns that would participate in today’s event.
First was Neide. He was the crystal’s carrier.
The second was Silasen. He also participated in Paris’ masquerade party incident. Today, he would be acting as a combatant.
And finally, the team leader of Evil Society’s ‘Artifact Retrieval Team’, Kim Hakpyo.
Before I could finish my thoughts, the lights in the hall went out.
The clamorous hall also quieted down, and soon, a complete silence descended.
The curtain covering the stage was lifted.
Tap, tap. The sound of boots rang out clearly.
Roton’s CEO, Zelen, appeared in the middle of the stage.
“It’s an honor to have you here tonight.”
When Rachel arrived at Clancy Hall’s VIP balcony seat, a Hero guard bowed respectfully.
Rachel replied with a small smile, then sat down on her seat. Hero guards then circled her surroundings thoroughly.
Rachel looked down at the first floor’s VIP seats, looking to see if there was anyone she knew. Because she was looking down from the top, she couldn’t make clear distinctions. However, there was one particularly noticeable face.
His attire was different than what he usually wore in Cube. He was wearing a full, brand-name luxury suit.
Plus, the jacket-cum-coat he was wearing was definitely the ‘partial artifact’ that she gave to him as a present.
Next to him was Kim Suho, Chae Nayun, and Yoo Yeonha, in that order.
“Ladies and gentlemen, it’s great to have you here tonight. I am Zelen, the CEO of Roton Corporation, a leader in innovative technology.”
While Rachel was caught off guard by seeing her classmates here, Roton’s CEO, Zelen, appeared on stage.
Zelen recited his opening remarks, then pointed at the second-floor balcony, saying, ‘before we begin, let me introduce to everyone the English Royal Court’s jewel—’
At that moment, a spotlight fell on Rachel’s head. It was so bright that she couldn’t even open her eyes. Still, Rachel stood up from her seat and gave the audience a gentle smile. Applauses rang out from the VIP seats. Soon, the spotlight turned off, and Rachel sat back down.
“Now, everyone, what is the power that forms the origin of all things?”
Zelen’s presentation started in full. Rachel was a bit disgruntled that a presentation on English soil was being done in Korean. Though, it was being translated into English in real time as well.
“That’s right, it is mana! Somewhere in this world, mana naturally coalesces into natural treasures. Even among these natural treasures, White Crystals are especially precious, fully deserving of the phrase 'humanity’s blessing.'”
On a big screen behind the stage, a beautiful crystal popped up.
That was a White Crystal, an essence of magic power that was formed from natural accumulation and condensation of mana. It was a natural treasure that was full of nature’s life energy.
Just by existing, a white crystal increased the atmospheric mana density, making it a priceless treasure that couldn’t be bought with money.
“Currently, 480 crystals have been found. However, there has not been a way to properly utilize this precious crystal.”
Zelen paused and made a meaningful smile.
“From now, we, the Roton Corporation, will present the true method of using the white crystal.”
Next, a staff dragged a strange cart to the stage. There seemed to be something on the cart, but it was covered with a cloth, hiding it from view.
Without delay, Zelen lifted the cloth.
A white crystal was floating inside a cubic glass tube.
Seeing the beautiful, pure white crystal, the audience burst into shocked cries. However, Zelen focused on the cubic glass tube, not the white crystal.
“This vacuum cube… ah, don’t misunderstand it with the Korean Peninsula’s Cube.”
The audience laughed at the objectively stale joke.
“This cube can trace its origin all the way to the Persian Empire. This cube was originally an earthenware. But we, in Roton Corporation, are a leader in the partial artifact industry, where artifacts are dismantled and reforged. We decomposed this earthenware into soil and sand, then recreated it into a glass tube using a state-of-the-art mana engineering technique.”
The audience was immediately stirred.
However, the stir wasn’t purely from the shock of Zelen’s announcement.
Looking down from above, Rachel could feel the presence of irregular movements.
Black figures began to appear from the pathways on the side of the VIP seats. At first, Rachel thought they were guards. However, she soon realized that their movements were strange.
Rachel spoke to her Hero guards.
“I’m fine, so keep your eyes on them.”
The Hero guards seemed to be thinking the same thing as they went downstairs, only leaving the minimum number of personnel behind.
It was then.
A person sitting in on the first-floor seat suddenly shot up.
He was particularly eye-catching. It was a man Rachel was familiar with, Kim Hajin.
Rachel suddenly remembered things that happened in the past. Kim Hajin always showed up where incidents occurred.
In that case, even now…
“Wait just one moment.”
She left Clancy Hall, restraining the guards who tried to follow her. Before she chased after Kim Hajin, she activated the magical effect stored in her necklace, ‘Shade’. Her presence disappeared, and any noise she made was extinguished. Rachel walked like a shadow.
At first, she tried to go downstairs. It was because she thought Kim Hajin would be there.
But contrary to her expectations, Kim Hajin came up.
About to run into him, she quickly hid behind a wall.
Wearing a pair of sunglasses, he climbed the central staircase. His steps were unhurried and stately. Rachel fell back a bit more, then chased after him using the emergency staircase.
Eventually, Rachel reached the rooftop.
However, Clancy Hall’s rooftop wasn’t a place a guest could enter. Only engineers would come 3 to 4 times every year for repair or maintenance.
As such, the door to the rooftop was firmly closed.
Without a key, that door could not be opened.
Kim Hajin tried to open the door, but the door did not budge. He tilted his head, then took out a hammer.
It was a seemingly ordinary hammer with a steelhead and a wooden handle. It looked old and worn-down, making it all the more shabby.
Without explicit permission, weapons couldn’t be brought into Clancy Islet. He probably had no choice but to bring a worn-down tool like that hammer.
Suddenly, Kim Hajin positioned himself to strike the door with the hammer. Almost as if to break the door.
However, that was impossible. There was no way. That iron door was made using mana alloy. A mere hammer, especially one that looked so worn-down, couldn’t possibly…
Kim Hajin smashed the door with the hammer.
A thunderous vibration erupted.
In the next moment, Rachel found herself at a loss for words. It was as if her brain stopped functioning.
The iron door was struck by the hammer, one that was clearly on the verge of breaking. However, the iron door was completely obliterated. It was dented as though it was struck by a truck.
Staring at the now widely open rooftop entrance, Rachel fell in thought.
Was the hammer clad in magic power?
No, that wasn’t it at all.
But if it wasn’t magic power, what was it? Only his physical power? To break an iron door made with mana alloy?
Rachel dropped on the floor and tried to comprehend the incomprehensible situation.
However, a bigger disturbance and screaming rang out from below.
Rachel quickly snapped out of her daze.
—I have confirmed Roton’s internal document. The item currently in Clancy Hall is the real one.
Hearing this report, Evil Society’s executive, Kim Hakpyo, grinned.
“It doesn’t matter what these insects do, the result is all the same.”
Even Kim Hakpyo wasn’t sure that Roton Corporation would bring out the real priceless crystal and ancient artifact.
However, with his craze for money, Zelen had done it. He didn’t want to miss the astronomical profit he could gain by presenting the real product.
Of course, it wasn’t a bad idea.
Clancy Islet, the floating island.
Entrants of the island were strictly vetted, and because the island itself was made with magic power, artificial Portals couldn’t be made either.
They couldn’t have imagined that Evil Society would utilize an aerial carrier.
Kim Hakpyo gave his command. Immediately, a dense black fog welled up beneath his feet. The VIPs seemed to think the situation was an event, but the blood curdling screams that rang out soon proved otherwise.
Hearing the screams, the VIPs lost their composure and stood up.
Sharp screams spread out like an epidemic, and the entire hall broke out into a pandemonium.
Sitting in a seat, Kim Hakpyo smiled.
He always welcomed confusion and chaos.
Now, everything would be taken care of in this pitch black darkness.
I posted official artwork for Rachel, Yoo Yeonha, and Chae Nayun! Go check it out!