Saturday’s Class Competitions start with archery.
Just like for the soccer match, a large crowd gathered at Cube’s archery range. In this world, archery was a rather extreme sports, so many people wanted to see it.
It was boring to just shoot a faraway target. What fun would it be to shoot targets 1km away, which ordinary people couldn’t even see? In this world’s world of sports, distance records had little meaning.
Instead, archery sports came with all sorts of magic effects and summoned monsters that hindered the archers. These effects provided something to see for the audience, making the sports far more thrilling than simply shooting a target. Naturally, being professional archers came with great honor and wealth.
And currently, I was sitting in the waiting room, watching the archery match happening outside.
The rule of the competition was simple.
Two archery representatives would stand in their own 75-meter-wide lane. They would both only have one chance, and the final score would be the farthest distance they reached.
But one important thing to note was that the competition wasn’t done in a tournament format. Because each archery match cost a surprising amount of money, representatives from each class would only participate in one match. In other words, there would be six archery matches in total, with two representatives going up per match. First place to twelfth place rankings would then be determined by the score they achieved when they were up.
—The match between Acceptance class and Cultivation class ended. Currently, the first place record is 320 meters, held by Eustass Haim.
The fifth match came to an end.
However, the first place record was only 320 meters. I would soon find out why.
“The last match will be between Veritas class and Virtue class. Representatives, please come out.”
A staff called me over. Veritas class’ representative was me, Kim Hajin, and Virtue class’ representative was a French cadet named Baire Moren.
Moren was someone I knew. He was one of the top sharpshooters in Cube. In the future, he would join Creator’s Sacred Grace and constantly oppose Kim Suho. In being an opportunist, he would join Kim Suho’s side in the end. In terms of pure archery skill, he should surpass Chae Nayun.
I glanced at Moren and checked my Gift’s proficiency grade.
[Intermediate rank] [Spirit attribute] [Evolving — Grade 6] [Proficiency EXP 27%]
Its growth halted at grade 6, and its proficiency experience was low as well.
Although I was slightly worried, I wasn’t confident.
In losing, that is.
“Yes, the representatives are coming. Cadet Kim Hajin, cadet Moren, please head out to the field.”
I left the waiting room with my bow hanging on my back.
The sunlight shone down perpendicularly, making no shade.
Chae Nayun was sitting with a bag of popcorn and a can of Coke.
“…Why are there so many magicians?”
Chae Nayun murmured as she looked around the archery range. She spent most of her morning loitering around the school, then arrived at the archery range with food when it was Kim Hajin’s turn to go. She was surprised how many robed magicians were around.
“An 8-star magician is coming today. They’re probably here to see her face.”
Yoo Yeonha pointed at the VIP observatory a little ways away.
“Oh, Magician Ah Hae-In?”
Ah Hae-In. She was a French-born 8-star magician, who became a naturalized Korean citizen at the age of 11.
As one of the world’s 300 8-star magicians, she was young and extremely beautiful. Although her personality was often described in strange ways, she was practically an idol to young magicians.
“I heard she was coming. So this is where she was. I was wondering why I could feel the earthquake from so far away.”
Earthquakes were the most common magic effect used in competitive archery. There were also effects like summoned monsters and plant traps, which Chae Nayun was looking forward to seeing.
She couldn’t wait to see Kim Hajin suffer.
—Next is Veritas class’ representative, Kim Hajin, and Virtue class’ representative, Baire Moren.
“Oh, it’s our class’ turn.”
Chae Nayun looked at the archery range with popcorn in her hand.
Kim Hajin and Baire Moren came out side by side. They shook hands, then split off into their own lanes.
Yoo Yeonha observed Kim Hajin’s movements with her chin on her hand.
Just now, Kim Hajin got up on the archery plate. The way he walked and carried himself exuded confidence.
“Looks like we have nothing to worry about.”
The Class Competitions event was a matter of pride for cadets. Furthermore, Veritas class was the favored winner because of its cadets. As a result, every time Veritas class lost, they felt bitter for a while because of the sense of pride and belonging they had with the class.
In a way, it was similar to what Koreans felt when they lost in international competitions.
“…By the way, what is he mumbling?”
At that moment, Chae Nayun furrowed her brows. Yoo Yeonha turned her gaze to the two competitors.
Indeed, Baire Moren was saying something to Kim Hajin.
“Trash talk, I guess? Baire Moren is supposedly sly and ill-tempered.”
Yoo Yeonha rarely gave false information, so Chae Nayun believed her wholeheartedly.
‘Now that I look more closely, it does look like he’s provoking Kim Hajin. I see, Moren is a piece of shit.’
VIP observatory, where Ah Hae-In was sitting in. To greet the honored 8-star magician, the observatory was adorned with all sorts of decorations and food.
“…Grand Duchess Ah Hae-In, is that child your nephew?”
During a break, a 5-star magician who volunteered to be her attendant carefully asked.
“Unofficially, yes. Officially, I’m the founder of the Ah clan, so I have no relatives.”
Ah Hae-In grinned as she looked down at the archery range. A part of the reason she came today was to see her nephew. As expected, he grew up well. He stood out especially because he was next to some average-looking guy.
The 5-star magician looked at Ah Hae-In in admiration, then spoke with a trembling voice.
“…Ah, it’s starting.”
Ah Hae-In placed her hand on an orb placed on a supporting platform in front of the observatory.
“I just need to continue doing what I did before, right?”
“Yes, you can start with a light earthquake.”
“I can do what I want starting from the 350-meter range, right? Since no one managed to get to 350 meters yet.”
“…Yes, but the obstacles have to be the same for both lanes.”
Ah Hae-In burst into laughter at the 5-star magician’s admonishment. Then, she shot back at him.
“Would I be able to do that? Don’t you know how much I cherish my nephew?”
“Ah… ahaha…. Well, it’s not a test, but a small festival for cadets. I’m sure it’s doesn’t matter what you do. Do as you wish, Grand Duchess. Cadets will feel honored just by having you participate….”
The subordinate magician showed excessive loyalty.
There was a good reason for it too. 8-star magicians were nobles among nobles, with only 87 of them existing in Korea. The title ‘Grand Duchess’ wasn’t just for show. As Class Competitions had several events, offering a single archery event as bribe wouldn’t cause much of a problem.
In fact, if the Grand Duchess came to Cube as a guest lecturer in exchange for this favor, it would be a huge boon for Cube.
“If you say so.”
Satisfied, Ah Hae-In smiled.
There was a reason why the first place cadet only reached 320 meters.
I only passed the 250-meter mark just now, but my legs were sore. It was because of the earthquake that just shook the ground I was standing on.
“Wow, you’re pretty good. I guess it’s true that you have a Specialized Gift.”
Moren spoke from next to me. However, he looked relaxed. Naturally, I had some doubts about what was happening. It was a justifiable suspicion. The extent of obstructive effects were clearly different for when I was shooting and when he was shooting.
“Tsk, you sure are relaxed.”
“Are you sure it’s not you who just trained lazily?”
He kept provoking me with a smiling face, making it all the more irritating.
I opened my eyes wide and stared at the observatory where the magician in charge of the obstructions should be staying.
With my Thousand-Mile Eyes, I saw a Western woman using magic inside the observatory. Her red hair and white skin blended well together. Engraved on her black cape were eight golden stars, and some magician was standing next to her, flattering her.
I knew of one woman with such a setting.
Thinking about it now, she had some sort of a relationship with Moren… I stealthily turned on my smartwatch and opened my settings book.
“Hey, your aunt is over there. Are you gonna go say hi afterwards?”
“Huh? What do you mean?”
Moren’s expression and voice were saying he was oblivious, but the corner of his mouth was slightly curled up. This son of a bitch definitely knew what was going on.
“Your aunt keeps harassing me.”
“What do you mean? Are you making excuses because you think you’re going to miss? Just hurry up and shoot, please.”
I raised my bow. Immediately, an earthquake broke out beneath me. It wasn’t just an earthquake. Suddenly, hail began to hammer down from the sky.
I was now in the 300-meter mark. It seemed a new trial was beginning.
The hail struck my shoulders and fingers, and blocked my vision. It was cold and painful.
However, my desire to win grew stronger.
I focused all my senses on my bow and target.
The arrow shot forward and successfully hit its mark.
Next was Moren’s turn. However, the hail falling on him was small and soft. If the hail I faced were like 228cm and 521kg hulks, the ones this guy was facing were… like Evandels.
Moren hit his mark without difficulty.
“It’s your turn next.”
The favoritism continued to escalate. I had no choice but to smile forcefully and keep pushing forward.
In the end, I reached the 350-meter mark after a painstaking effort.
—Both sides have surpassed the first place record! From the 350-meter mark, the target will move 50% faster and the participants’ turn order will change! In other words, Baire Moren will go first!
Moren sighed as he raised his bow. It seemed he was nervous.
I wondered what the next obstacle was.
When I was looking at the lanes half in worry and half in expectation…
Huge vines suddenly shot up from the ground.
“Whoa! What’s this!?”
Moren shouted in surprise. 10-meter-tall vines shot up as if to swallow the entire lane. Among them, a few that were especially close to Moren swirled around him, then KWANG!
They slammed down on the ground next to him.
However, Moren remained poised. All archers cultivated patience and calm.
Unless he stepped off of the archery plate, he didn’t need to worry about being attacked by the vines.
Not to mention, the vines were acting warm towards him. Almost like reeds, they only swayed back and forth. It was almost as if they were fanning him to cool him off.
Still, Moren failed.
Under the pressure from constant earthquakes and hail, he was unable to hit the target that got 50% faster. This was his limit.
—Ah! Moren regrettably misses his target!
It was my turn once again. To be honest, I was worried. I raised my bow, swallowing my fear.
Then just as expected, the damned vines became fiercer. They were swaying freely when it was Moren’s turn, but now they were spazzing out violently.
I stopped thinking for a moment.
Anyone could see the favoritism that was going on. But I could just tear through it as well. In a way, I also had an incredible backing in the form of Lady Luck.
I nocked an arrow and pulled on the bowstring.
Immediately, the vines became even more astringent, almost like they were just dumped by their lovers… I could feel their rage and agitation.
Then it was time for me to get serious too.
I activated Bullet Time. In an instant, the world slowed down. At the same time, the target shot up from a point 350 meters away.
But no matter how I thought about it, I couldn’t hit that target.
The angle simply made it impossible.
The target flew through the air, and the monster vines moved meticulously, completely blocking the path between me and the target.
I was running out of time.
The target could disappear at any moment.
I tightened my grip and bit my lips.
In a situation where I couldn’t use magic power, would I be able to shoot an arrow through those vines with precise control?
…Just when I was thinking about giving up, a thought flashed across my mind.
I murmured silently.
I scanned my bow and arrow. The numbers 40 and 41 popped up.
The elasticity of the bowstring, the flexibility of the arrow, all concepts making up the two objects were strengthened.
I opened my eyes wide and peered through vines at the target I had to hit.
Accurately tracing the predicted trajectory of the target, I nocked the arrow leaning slightly to the right.
Then, I pulled the bowstring.
The arrow flew forward, bending in a strange way. It flew right, dodging all the obstacles in the path, then curled left before flying straight like a bullet.
The result was obvious.
—…Veritas class’ Kim Hajin! He succeeds on the 350-meter mark!
“…The hell, how did that arrow bend?”
After watching my arrow in complete shock, Moren uttered with an expression of disbelief.
“Did you use magic power?”
“You think your aunt wouldn’t have noticed if I did?”
I chucked my bow in front of me. Now that I got first place even through such blatant favoritism, I felt I needed to make things clear.
“This is the difference in our league.”
I turned around and checked my smartwatch.
I felt something just now.
I had to have received a gift.
“…I knew it.”
There were several alerts on the smartwatch.
[You performed a curving arrow. Master Sharpshooter’s proficiency EXP increases by 15%.]
[Low rank Gift, Curve Shot, has been added to Master Sharpshooter.]
—Long ranged attacks will curve depending on the shooter’s will. (The extent of curving will change depending on the Gift’s grade and the type of weapon.)
The corner of my mouth twitched.
Another low rank Gift got added to Master Sharpshooter.
To reiterate, my Gift’s strongest point was its scope of use. Proficiency gained by using a gun could be used on a bow. Likewise, a Gift obtained by using a bow could be used with a gun.
In other words, I was now able to shoot curving bullets.