Chapter 81. Teamwork (2)


Under the faint moonlight, Kim Suho was walking alone to his dorm room. As he walked along the dark road, he suddenly burst into laughter.
The fight he just had flashed before his eyes. He was flown away helplessly when he was only an inch away from Kim Hajin. Even now, he was unable to understand what attacked him.
Was it a physical attack or an instantaneous emission of magic power? In either case, a mysterious force had struck him away from the battlefield, and Kim Hajin was able to deal a valid blow.

‘…I thought I was the only one hiding my power.’

Abnormally high strength would undoubtedly attract unwanted suspicion. As such, Kim Suho had only revealed enough of his power to maintain first place rank in Cube. He was hiding his power for himself, and the only reason he maintained first place was for his family.

‘So there was someone else thinking the same thing as me.’

Kim Suho didn't go easy in his fight with Kim Hajin. Still, Kim Hajin managed to avoid his attacks with strange movements. Even now, Kim Suho felt that Kim Hajin’s movements were completely mysterious.
It was seemingly mindless and lacking in foundation.
He seemed slow and full of openings, so much so that Kim Suho saw dozens of opportunities to attack. However, his attacks only grazed him or slashed through the air.
Even when he thought it was over, Kim Hajin escaped his range with incomprehensible acrobatics. It seemed like an easy victory at first, but he couldn’t close out the fight.
He truly couldn’t tell whether Kim Hajin was real or fake.
It was flawlessness masked as weakness.

“…Hm?”

At that moment, Kim Suho heard the sound of a sword cutting through wind. He could even hear a small, clenched shout. The sound was coming from the park near the dorm. Curious, he headed over, whereupon he saw a girl swinging a sword.
It was Chae Nayun.

“What are you doing?”

“…Hyak!”

Startled, Chae Nayun threw the sword she was swinging. The sword flew like a baseball bat and struck a dorm window. Thankfully, the window didn’t break, but the cadet inside seemed to have woken up as the lights came on.

“Wh, what!”

“Why are you so surprised?”

“….”

Chae Nayun glared at the sudden uninvited guest. Kim Suho smirked and asked.

“Were you doing sword practice?”

“…Just stamina training.”

Chae Nayun unleashed magic power. The sword flew back into her hand following her magic power.
Chae Nayun dusted off the dirt on her sword and pointed it at Kim Suho.

“Where are you coming back from?”

“Me?”

Kim Suho answered honestly.

“I met with Kim Hajin.”

Chae Nayun’s eyes widened.

“Kim Hajin?”

“Yep.”

“…What for?”

Chae Nayun asked as she tucked her hair behind her ears, pretending to be unconcerned. Seeing this, Kim Suho had a mischievous thought.

“We were talking about you.”

“Wha, wha, what. Bu, bullshit.”

She reacted rather strongly. Her face flushed all the way to her ears, and her hands and feet couldn’t stay still. Kim Suho shook his head while laughing.

“It was a joke. We sparred.”

“…Sparred? You and Kim Hajin?”

“Yeah.”

“Who won? No, you must have won. But why?”

“…You don’t need to know that.”

Chae Nayun stared at Kim Suho sourly. Then, she turned around and began to focus on her sword practice again.
Whish. Whish.
She swung her sword, but she was putting in too much strength.
Kim Suho stepped in, unable to bear watching it.

“You can’t hold a sword like that.”

“…What.”

“If you put that much strength into your grip, you won’t be able to cut what you should be able to.”

Kim Suho pulled out a wooden sword and gave a demonstration. He didn’t grip his sword tightly. He held it lightly yet firmly enough so that he could change his grip at any moment.
Kim Suho swung his sword as a demonstration, drawing a clear sword wind in the air. The sword wind touched Chae Nayun’s hair and scattered.
Chae Nayun’s unenthusiastic attitude took an immediate turn. She carefully watched Kim Suho’s grip and copied him.

“…Like, like this?”

The lesson she suddenly started with Kim Suho continued until midnight.

**


When Chae Nayun returned to her dorm room, she immediately made a video call to Hazuki. It was to tell her about the team she decided on.
She made Hazuki the vice-leader and selected an average supporter and sharpshooter in addition.
Two warriors, one support, one sharpshooter, one magician.
As the magician was from the upper ranks of Seoul Magic Academy, it was a well-balanced team. Furthermore, Chae Nayun could act as both a warrior and a sharpshooter, making her team even more flexible. Her team wasn’t just decent, it was undoubtedly one of the best.

—Ah… then is Hajin-ssi not joining us?

However, in the holographic video call, Hazuki murmured regretfully.

“Uh, well, I can bring him if I wanted, but then I’d feel bad for Rachel’s team. Other than Rachel, everyone on that team is only average.”

Conscientiously, Chae Nayun replied with a loud voice.
Just like she said, without Rachel and Kim Hajin, Team Rachel wasn’t particularly outstanding. First, their team had three warriors and no supporter, and the magician named Tomer was below average as well.

—But…

“Let’s not think about them. I’m going to submit the team list like this, okay?”

—Y-Yes.

Just like that, Team Chae Nayun was confirmed.
Chae Nayun hung up the call and jumped on her bed.
It was time to sleep, but she wasn’t sleepy.
Frankly, she was frustrated and annoyed. If she knew this would happen, she would have asked Kim Hajin much earlier. That way, they would have been able to obtain a good score in theory too. Because she kept hesitating, he ended up being taken away by Rachel.

“…Am I going to lose again?”

She could still remember her defeat during the midterm. The result of her duel with Rachel was perhaps a decisive reason she switched to the sword.
Chae Nayun, who was recalling this bad memory under the blanket, suddenly shot up. She simply couldn’t fall asleep.
Without a choice, she picked up a helmet lying next to her bed. To relieve stress in this late hour, playing games was the only option.

[Gladiator of the Century]

It was a famous virtual reality game whose competitive scene was frequently on public broadcasts.
Because it helped with image training, it was enjoyed by many Heroes and cadets all over the world. With its popularity, the rank 1 player of each season was naturally at the center of media attention.

[Nayunjajangman]
[98 wins 17 losses]

Her dazzling win rate was something Chae Nayun was very proud of.

“Hm.”

Unranked matches were better than ranked matches for relieving stress.
Chae Nayun rolled her eyes as she searched for an opponent. Soon, she found someone suitable.
The player’s nickname was Extra7. He was in platinum league with 43 wins and 43 losses.
It seemed like an easy victory.

[You asked Extra7 for a duel.]
[Extra7 has accepted your duel.]

“Oho, this guy is quite bold.”

Chae Nayun grinned as she focused on virtual reality.
There were no stats or items in this game. Only battle sense and superior control determined victory or defeat.

[Start!]

The duel began. Chae Nayun wanted to take things slow and test the waters. However, the opponent was unexpectedly reckless. Before she could adapt to his sudden attack, her character floated up and was torn apart by a series of consecutive strikes. By the time she knew what happened, her vision had turned red.

“Eh, what? A-Ah!”

She tried to take things more seriously, but her HP was too low.
…In the end, she lost after just three minutes since the start of the duel.
[Defeat]
Chae Nayun stared at this word blankly, then frowned.

“Argh, this sly piece of crap!”

*


[Victory]

I won again. I was currently playing a game called [Gladiator of the Century]. It was quite realistic, both in terms of graphics and movements, so I’ve been playing it recently as a way to image train.

“So, it works on this too.”

The number 37 was engraved on the console helmet. It meant Random Consolidation System was active.

===
[Random Consolidation System]
[Low rank] [Spirit attribute]

—Random Consolidation
*Consolidates the ‘concept’ of the scanned equipment by 1~44%. The consolidation lasts for 24 hours, after which the consolidation percentage will be randomized once again.

===

The consolidation of ‘concept’. Using this ability, my game console had become something else. Not only did the console’s functionality and performance increase, the speed of my thoughts and feelings also increased by 37%. It was 37% numerically, but I felt like it was a bigger increase.

“I won seven times in a row.”

Thanks to my new Gift, I ended up defeating a 98-win-17-loss veteran seven times in a row. Of course, it was an unranked match, so it didn’t really impact my ranked stats.

[Nayunjajangman requests a rematch.]
[Nayunjajangman requests a rematch.]
[Nayunjajangman requests a rematch.]

“This kid sure is tenacious…. Well too bad for you, I have to sleep now.”

I turned the game off and put the helmet away. Suddenly, I caught sight of Evandel in the corner of my eyes.

“Yummy. So yummy.”

She was asleep when I got home, but she woke up when I started to play Gladiator of the Century, and now she was fully awake and munching on cake.
The huge cake I brought had been reduced by half. Was she allowed to eat that much? I was a bit worried.
After watching Evandel for a bit, I confiscated the cake.

“Ah, aan! W-What ish it!”

“…Let’s save the rest of it for later.”

“Why, why!?”

“It’s not good for your health.”

Evandel hopped up to try and grab the cake. However, I was coldhearted. I put the cake away on the topmost shelf in the fridge.
Realizing that it was away from her reach, Evandel placed her hands by her waist and frowned. It was almost as if she was disgruntled with the whole world.

“I want more! I want more!”

She even learned to complain….
I placed my index finger over my mouth.

“Shh. You should only eat a little snack after meals. Also, you can’t be loud at night.”

“….”

Although she quieted down at my warning, her tiny hands were trembling. Without any other choice, I held up Evandel.

“Tomorrow, you can eat the rest of it tomorrow, okay? I’ll buy even more delicious food tomorrow.”

“…Really?”

“Of course. Have you seen me not keep a promise?”

When I stroked her head, she finally seemed to have been appeased.
Not long afterward, Evandel fell asleep, and I placed her on my bed.
When I checked my smartwatch afterward, I noticed that Kim Suho had sent me a message two hours ago.

[Second week of August, Friday. Let’s meet then.]

“…Whew.”

===
[Cadet Jacket]
A jacket created by Cube.
—Trap Transformation
*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.
===

It seemed he recognized my skill. It was all thanks to the cadet jacket I modified. Kim Suho didn’t seem to suspect anything either. Of course, it was his jacket, so there was no reason for him to suspect it.
Moreover, it was an ‘unknown force’ that pushed him. Kim Suho would never figure out what had done him in.

**


Wednesday.
It was the first class since the team formation, a combat training called ‘Dungeon Investigation’.
Normally, when Heroes find a Dungeon, they would dispatch an advance party first in order to get a rough idea of what’s inside the Dungeon. In this combat training, cadets would act as this advance party.

“Ah, it’s so cold.”

“Auuu, aren’t you cold, Hajin?”

My team was currently inside a Dungeon that was covered in ice. The five of us shivered in the cold as we walked onward.
After about 20 minutes, the road suddenly forked into five branches.

“It’s here.”

Tomer suddenly pointed at the rightmost path. I opened my eyes wide and stared at the direction Tomer pointed. As expected, there was a trap there.

“No, that’s the wrong place.”

“What? No, it isn’t.”

Tomer was purposely leading us into a trap. I didn’t think there was a Djinn waiting to ambush us, but she must have a set some sort of a life-threatening trap.

“In a Dungeon Investigation, it’s common sense to listen to your sharpshooter.”

“….”

Tomer stared at Rachel. Too bad for her, Rachel was also on my side.

“Let’s go as Hajin-ssi says.”

“…Don’t regret it later.”

Tomer was a sore loser.

“There’s a yeti up ahead.”

A yeti was sleeping in the pathway I chose.
The Dungeon’s first monster, yeti.
We advanced forward, keeping our guard up.
After that, Tomer continued to try to lead us, especially Rachel, into a trap. However, I was always there to prevent her.

“Guys, I think it’s this way, for real this time. If you see the traces of ice around there….”

“No, it’s not.”

“No, trust me just this once. Rachel-ssi, come with me. Wouldn’t it be more efficient to split into two groups?”

“No, we can’t.”

I had to commend her for her constant effort, but that didn’t mean I could let her do as she pleased. I grabbed Rachel by her wrist, and she followed me silently.
As time passed, Tomer’s expression grew more and more irritated.

“Um….”

My Thousand-Mile Eyes found the shortest path in this maze-like Ice Dungeon. There were no obstructions and no difficulties.
By the time we caught a glimpse of the instructor waiting at the exit, Rachel spoke uncomfortably.

“Um… Hajin-ssi.”

“Yes?”

“This….”

Rachel glanced at her wrist. I was holding onto her, thinking Tomer might take her away.

“Oh right, sorry.”

“No, you don’t need to be….”

“Team Rachel!”

The instructor spotted us and shouted in a thunderous voice. We hurriedly ran up and stood in front of him.

“Your findings?”

“Yes. A yeti, snowbeast, white calamity, white drake….”

Rachel recited the result of the investigation. The instructor listened quietly and compared the findings with a list. Then, a faint smile appeared on his face.

“Based on the rank of the monsters distributed in the Dungeon, the Dungeon’s boss is likely to be at least intermediate rank grade 3.”

“Good. Team Rachel, perfect score.”

Rachel’s face turned bright. It was the same with the other team members. They clenched their fists and deliberated on the words ‘perfect score’.

“…Dammit.”

Meanwhile, Tomer kicked a rock with an irritated expression of her face.

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