Rachel stopped in the middle of walking. Seeing that she had somewhat of a serious face, I also stopped with her. She stared at me fixedly, then spoke.
“I already submitted the team list.”
Team Rachel was composed of the following members: Rachel, Jin Hoseung, Yi Bokgyu, Kim Hajin, Tomer.
Rachel had the highest rank, and Jin Hoseung and Yi Bokgyu were rank 108 and 173 respectively. The team list deadline was Wednesday, but Rachel had already submitted it.
“…So you can’t go somewhere else.”
That’s what Rachel said. Perhaps because of what Chae Nayun said, her eyes and voice seemed a bit worried.
“Ah, they’re over there!”
At that moment, the other team members arrived. Jin Hoseung, Yi Bokhyu, and Tomer, all of them.
“We’re in the same team now. Let’s go get some food together.”
Jin Hoseung spoke excitedly. Was it because he was in Rachel’s team?
I glanced at Rachel who nodded.
“So where are we going?”
“Mm… well, what do you want to eat, Rachel-ssi?”
“I’m fine with anything.”
Rachel wasn’t a particularly picky eater, but there was something she liked.
“Let’s go to Hangyujung, the Korean restaurant.”
Yi Bokgyu and Jin Hoseung didn’t seem to mind, and Rachel let out a satisfied cough. Only Tomer had no reaction.
“Are you okay with that?”
It was a short answer.
It was decided.
While we were walking looking at a GPS, Jin Hoseung suddenly came up to me.
“Hajin, about the ticket I talked about before, it’s in two days. Do you want to come with me?”
Immediately, Rachel’s eyes flickered fiercely. France and England had a relationship similar to Korea and Japan. Because I added a setting that England and France had an artifact scramble about 20 years ago, the feeling between the two countries was at its worst.
“No, I’m fine.”
To be honest, I was curious about Napoleon’s rifle, but I didn’t want to go all the way to France just to see it.
“Why? Who knows, maybe Napoleon’s rifle will become yours.”
Rachel muttered in a small voice.
“How? I’m rank 334.”
“Well, it’ll be better to put it to use than to just keep it in the museum…. By the way, Hajin, don’t you think your voice changed a bit?”
“Kuhum. Did it?”
That was thanks to the flute I bought in Clancy Islet’s antique shop.
A flute used by a wandering minstrel of Joseon.
If you blow this horn, your throat will become clean and your voice will become clearer for three hours.
I used it for the first time about five minutes before I went to see Kim Suho. Because a deep voice carried more reliability.
Ever since then, I’ve been using the flute often. I liked how my voice sounded clearer, and it felt great to open up my throat in the morning.
“Yeah, is it puberty?”
Thankfully, I didn’t have to answer his question that lacked common sense, as we arrived at the Korean restaurant.
Rachel went in first, smacking her lips.
An abandoned factory in Suwon.
After nine months, all members of the Chameleon Troupe gathered in their hideout. Droon had finally figured out how to use the White Crystal, and the purpose of their gathering was to spectate.
“…Kid, do I really break it?”
Cheok Jungyeong asked again, carrying an artifact sword in one hand. Droon frowned and urged him on.
“Yeah, do it.”
“Tsk, don’t blame me if anything goes wrong.”
Cheok Jungyeong grumbled as he wrapped his fist with magic power. The density of the magic power made it seem as though he was wearing a gauntlet.
Cheok Jungyeong’s fist clashed with the artifact sword. The result was that the sword shattered like glass.
Droon picked up a fragment of the shattered sword and placed it on a stone table.
“I’ll initiate it now.”
Woong— The White Crystal began to resonate, unleashing magic power. The magic power condensed inside the cube encasing the crystal then began to radiate towards the sword fragment. The crystal’s white magic power clung to the fragment, forming a crystalline sword.
Cheok Jungyeong applauded in amazement, while the rest of Chameleon Troupe members made shocked faces.
“There. Just like that, the tiny sword fragment became a partial artifact. According to my test, it’s at least as strong as a low-rank artifact. A single artifact can produce about 30 partial artifacts and taking the crystal’s magic power capacity into account, we’ll be able to make about 600 more.”
“And we sell each partial artifact for about 700~800 million won…. Amazing.”
Even with a simple calculation, one could see that it was close to a 500 billion won profit. Even after deducting the black market and money laundering fees, it would be about 20 billion won per member. It was indeed worth the risk.
“Yeah, but it’ll take at least 5 years to sell it all.”
“That’s fine. Oh, by the way.”
Jain suddenly cut in.
“Packhorse Master started their Suwon Devil’s Nest conquest.”
The eyes of the Chameleon Troupe’s members flickered with a conspicuous light.
They were the prey Chameleon Troupe was eyeing.
They had finally started their activities.
“Look, if you do this….”
It was time for children to sleep, but Evandel was busy playing with clay dough.
She seemed to be using too much magic power on creating spirit bodies, so I prepared a toy she could use to have fun.
“Wow, what’s this?”
Evandel made a penguin with glasses, which she often saw on TV. I opened my eyes wide in surprise. Evandel puffed out her chest with a proud face.
“How did you make it? Are you a genius?”
“Hihi, want me to tell you?”
“No, I won’t be able to do it even if you did. This is a skill you were born with.”
While I was making Evandel smile with continued praises, my smartwatch suddenly rang.
It was Kim Suho.
[Can you come out to the forest we met at last time?]
‘Oho, so you finally made your decision.’
With a smile, I got up from my seat.
“Evandel, I’m going to be out for a bit.”
“Un? Where are you going?”
“Uh… to buy some snacks for us to eat before bed.”
“Snacks? I want cake!”
“I’ll buy some, don’t worry.”
Using that as an excuse, I went outside.
Repeating the word ‘cake’ so as to not forget about it, I headed to the forest where Kim Suho was waiting.
Cube’s night was chilly even during summer. It was because Cube was an island in the middle of the East Sea.
Rubbing my shoulders every time the wind blew, I arrived at the meeting spot.
In the middle of the dark forest, Kim Suho was standing with a serious face. His usual gentleness was gone as the air carried a heavy atmosphere.
“Yo, Kim Suho, why’d you call me?”
Hearing my voice, Kim Suho turned around.
He stared at me for a long time with heavy eyes, then let out a deep sigh. It seemed he was about to say something serious.
“…Do you remember what you said to me last time?”
“Huh? Oh yeah, what about it?”
“Just like you said… I recently found a Dungeon.”
I smiled silently. I already expected him to say this.
“It must have been formed recently since it’s small. So I was thinking about challenging it alone.”
“…But it’s still a Dungeon. It’s a big risk to try to conquer it alone.”
I crossed my arms leisurely and interrupted him.
Kim Suho calmly nodded in response.
“Yeah, I’ve been thinking the same thing….”
Kim Suho suddenly threw down his jacket.
“But if I’m going to trust my back to you, I’ll need to verify your skills.”
He murmured in a low voice as he stared at me.
I was taken aback. The situation was turning out a bit differently than I had expected.
“I know the exact location of the Dungeon. So it’s okay if I determine whether you will be a help or a burden, right?”
My crossed arms began to tremble.
To be honest, even if Kim Suho was blind and left-handed, I wouldn’t be able to defeat him. That was the difference between our skill. Not to mention, Kim Suho was a swordsman, while I was a sharpshooter.
“You’re right, but there’s one thing you haven’t considered.”
I racked my brain to try and avoid this fight.
Should I try showing him the power of my Desert Eagle? Even without having to fight, he should be able to see my attack power if I shoot a tree trunk.
“It’s not fair for a sharpshooter and a warrior to fight one-on-one in an open field. Plus, I’m a bit reliant on my weapon. Depending on the type of gun, the difference in my attack power will be like the difference between heaven and earth….”
“You don’t have to beat me.”
However, Kim Suho cut me off.
“And the weapon doesn’t matter. I’m not trying to test your weapon’s power.”
“Yeah, I’ll stop when I’m satisfied.”
Now I had nothing to say.
Kim Suho took out his sword. It wasn’t a cadet sword, which was made out of steel, but a wooden sword for sparring. However, the quality of a sword didn’t matter for Kim Suho.
The moment his magic power surrounds that sword, my bullets would stop working. Using anti-magic wouldn’t change a thing. Kim Suho’s magic power existed on a higher dimension, and it could even cut ‘anti-magic’.
…A good idea suddenly popped into my head.
“Oh, but I forgot to bring a gun.”
“What’s that on your waist?”
I looked down at my waist. The cadet handgun I usually carried around was in my belt’s holster.
“Oh… I brought it…. I forgot….”
Without any other choice, I took the gun out.
“But will it be okay? Unlike a wooden sword, I won’t be able to control my gun’s strength.”
“…Also, this isn’t my real weapon. I’m using this since we’re prohibited from carrying personal weapons in Cube, but…”
I racked my brain as I tried to buy time. I began to look around for something that could trigger my luck.
First, I checked the surrounding terrain.
We were in a forest, the sky was dark and the wind was cool.
Kim Suho’s hair fluttered from the westerly wind, and the jacket he threw down flapped on the ground.
The jacket on the ground.
To be recognized by Kim Suho, the help of my SP and luck was necessary.
“Are you ready?”
Seeing me staring at the ground, Kim Suho spoke up.
“Hold on. Someone sent me a message.”
I wasn’t ready yet. I began to operate the laptop on my smartwatch.
…For two minutes, I busily tapped on the holographic keyboard. The result was as follows.
A jacket created by Cube.
*When someone steps on this jacket, an unknown force will strongly push the person off.
*This effect lasts for 10 minutes and will disappear after one activation.
[25 SP will be consumed. Would you like to save?]
Perhaps because it was a one-time change that wouldn’t deal any damage, I needed less SP than expected. This was undoubtedly worth the investment.
I turned the smartwatch off, then took a deep breath.
“Then let’s start.”
The man who would become the worlds strongest was standing in front of me. He was only standing, but I felt an immense pressure pressing down on me.
I held my breath in the surging tension. Then, Kim Suho charged towards me. His speed was beyond what I could follow with my naked eyes.
Normally, I would have been incapable of reacting to his movements, but I was able to with Bullet Time.
My sense of time slowed down.
Although Kim Suho was still much quicker than me, I could see his wooden sword clearly.
After ducking and barely avoiding a slash, I glanced away to locate the jacket.
I didn’t wish for anything more.
I just wanted to walk four more steps.
Kim Suho’s wooden sword swung past my eyes. I fired at Kim Suho’s foot, which Kim Suho dodged by jumping up lightly. Then, he swung his sword, swirling backward.
The wooden sword grazed my shoulder. A burning pain overwhelmed me, but I managed to take two steps.
However, Kim Suho’s sword, which just grazed my shoulder, soared up.
My instincts roared.
This attack was going to hit.
I was physically incapable of dodging it. How could someone like me avoid a sword that hurled toward me five times a second?
With no other choice, I used Aether.
Aether shot up from my feet, pushing me to the side. With that, I was only a single step away from the jacket.
Kim Suho seemed surprised that I avoided his consecutive strikes. However, he chased after me without giving me a chance to collect my breath. Charging at me like a drill, he swung his sword at my shoulder.
However, before his sword could hit my body…
He stepped on the jacket.
That was it.
Kim Suho’s body disappeared from my sight. Without even a scream, he was sent flying.
His center of gravity was pushed forward because of that final strike, and because he was completely caught off guard, Kim Suho couldn’t make a proper landing. He fell and rolled on the ground about 50 meters away.
He tried to get up quickly.
However, my bullet struck first on a rock next to Kim Suho’s head.
“…In a real fight, that wouldn't have missed.”
Though, it would have been blocked by his qi reinforcement anyways.
I trudged up to Kim Suho. He had a soulless, blank face.
When I reached out to lend him a hand, a deep smile emerged on his face.