Chapter 99. Ghost (1)


The team duel arena was completely different from the first semester’s one-on-one duel arena.
Unlike the first semester's Colosseum-like circular arena, the team duel took place in a rectangular arena that was 130 meters in width and 250 meters in length.
As soon as the judge signaled the start of the duel, the arena transformed into a mountainous ground with rocks and shrubbery. They served as obstacles separating the two teams, but they helped me more than they hindered me.

“Jin Hoseung-ssi and I will charge forward. Everyone else can slowly chase after us while supporting us from the back.”

Rachel spoke.
However, I jumped up to a nearby tree.

“Um, Hajin-ssi?”

Rachel’s confused voice rang out from below. I smiled and gestured.

“Go ahead. I’ll support everyone from above.”

Claiming high ground was the job of sharpshooters.
As Rachel also knew this, she nodded and entrusted me with the job.
Then, Rachel and Jin Hoseung charged forward. I chased after them, jumping from tree to tree.

“…!”

Suddenly, a sharp arrow cut through the air and shot towards me. I quickly bent my waist like a bow, and as the arrow shot past me with a narrow margin, time seemed to slow down.

“Wow.”

At my current light-bodied state, this level of dodging was easy to do. Because of my new Physique, my speed stat was around 6.3 points. I was practically a ninja for now.

I turned to the direction the arrow came from. The opposing team’s archer shot a second magic arrow. This time, I struck down his arrow with a bullet. Although the bullet disintegrated the moment it touched the arrow, it still managed to twist the arrow’s path. The archer frowned.
It seemed he didn’t want to fight me.

“Daeyun! Handle their sharpshooter!”

He shouted at a teammate behind him, then aimed his bow forward, where Rachel and Jin Hoseung were charging in.
I also glanced at the battlefield. Immediately, I felt like I could hear a clear background music of freedom.

“…The heck.”

Yohei looked like he came straight out of a manhwa.
Standing in the middle of the battlefield, he was biting on a tiny branch with his eyes closed. He looked comfortable and at ease, even with Rachel and Jin Hoseung charging straight towards him. In fact, he still had his katana in its sheath.

“Ronin, be free and wild like the wind.”

By the time Rachel and Jin Hoseung got in range, Yohei blurted out some incomprehensible words and opened his eyes.
When Rachel’s rapier and Jin Hoseung’s saber were about to cut down Yohei… the katana sleeping inside his sheath flashed with a cold light.
A quick-draw.
A katana soared up in response to a rapier and saber. Yohei parried the two attacks like lightning and counterattacked with a beam of light. His sword was lighter than wind, yet fiercer than a storm.

I watched the clashing of three warriors in a daze.
Currently, Yohei was fighting two cadets on his own, with Rachel being one of them.
Still, they were evenly matched. It was thanks to all sorts of buff magic and the extra magic power he was being supplied with by his teammate.

It was then that I understood their team’s formation.
Yohei was standing in the frontline, a sharpshooter was positioned in the middle, and a supporter and a warrior were protecting their magician in the back.

It was the so-called four-protect-one.
Their strategy was to throw everything they had onto Yohei.
Their sharpshooter was positioned in the middle to support both the frontline and the backline, while the magician was pouring buffs and magic power to Yohei.

It was an efficient strategy for a defensive team.
As long as the magician didn’t die.
And as long as there wasn’t a hyena like me lurking around.

I made a detour and looped around to the magician, who was being protected by two people.
It seemed I wasn’t talented in moving stealthily as their warrior discovered me.
A muscular warrior with a buzz cut threw his axe at me. The axe flew like a boomerang, cutting down on the greenery around me, then returned to the warrior’s hand.
When he spotted me and the gun in my hand, he frowned.

“Why is a sharpshooter here alone…?”

Without answering him, I fired a barrage of bullets.
The warrior stabbed his axe into the ground without being flustered. When he imbued magic power into it, the axe grew big, and the supporter standing next to the magician also raised his shield and blocked the barrage of bullets.

Meanwhile, I looked for the blind spots in their defense.
Although their magician was hidden behind the supporter, I felt like I could reach him if I shot from above.
During combat training classes, cadets wore special protectors that absorbed damage to their vital points. Obviously, it was to protect cadets from being severely injured. By design, cadets were instantly eliminated if their neck protectors were hit.

At that moment, their warrior and supporter exchanged glances that seemed to say, ‘you protect the magician, I’ll get that sharpshooter.’
The warrior charged at me with his axe.
I didn’t particularly mind it. In an obstacle-filled environment perfect for utilizing Parkour, a slow warrior was unable catch up to me.
I hopped from tree to tree and kept my eyes on their magician’s position. Their supporter must have felt my gaze as he performed something quite unique.

“—Conjunction."

In an instant, his kite shield multiplied and surrounded them.
However, there were still gaps in their defense.
By design, shields were incapable of forming a perfect protective cover. Tiny gaps inevitably existed between them.
That was where I aimed.

“Huaaap!”

The warrior swung his axe. His axe turned giant and crushed the tree I was standing on. I jumped off at the same time, then made a big turn in the air.
Psssh— Pieces of the tree scattered into the air, and my body turned upside down 10 meters in the air.
At the same time, I activated Bullet Time.
Time slowed down, and I held up my gun. I could see a tiny gap between two kite shields.
Since the speed and trajectory of my bullets were completely within my control, my job was simple.
I twisted the gun slightly to the right and fired.

Whish—

The bullet I fired curved oddly in midair.
I could clearly see the bullet’s movement.
The bullet, which logically should have flown straight, suddenly dropped down. Then, almost as if it was a homing missile with a designated target, it dug through the tiny gap between two shields.

“Aak!”

The magician’s scream rang out.
Because the magician trusted the shields, he didn’t pay attention to his safety. If he had even a single layer of Barrier around him, he wouldn’t have died instantly.
However, the magician tried to conserve his magic power, and as a result…

—Team Yohei, magician Yoo Soohwan eliminated.

His neck protector was struck by my bullet.

“Agh, this sly bastard…!”

The enraged warrior and supporter rushed toward me.

“Come on, sly?”

I climbed up a tree. Then, just as a monkey would throw banana peels from a tree, I fired constantly.

“Get down! Get down here!”

Every time the warrior threw his axe, I repeatedly hopped to another tree and continued provoking him.
Meanwhile, the frontline battle was coming to a close.
With the magician’s magic power support cut off, Rachel and Jin Hoseung began to push back Yohei, and the opposing team’s sharpshooter was busy dodging Tomer’s magic attacks.
With the only two people who could help them chasing after me…
This battle was practically over.

**

10 minutes later, the victor’s waiting room.
As soon as the duel ended, I asked Yoo Yeonha about information on Yohei.

[He has the wind attribute, the rarest attribute among water, wind, earth, and fire. His Gift lets him use his magic power to display wind-like movements.]
[Just like how wind is constant and intangible, he can send several sword strikes simultaneously and dodge his opponents’ attacks fluidly. The name of his Gift is ‘Covenant of Wind’.]
[In summary, his Gift and physical abilities are both excellent. But because he’s lacking in magic power, he is weak in drawn-out fights.]
[It seemed he formed his team to make-up for this weakness. The magician Yoo Soohwan has a magic called ‘Target Chain’, which transmits spells and magic power to a connected target from a long range.]
[If he survived until the end, this fight would have been more difficult. Yohei’s battle sense is said to be second only to Kim Suho and Shin Jonghak.]

Yoo Yeonha’s message was thorough like a report. Cadets often kept their Gifts secret, but she was even knowledgeable about that. It seemed asking her was a good idea.

At that moment, the waiting room door opened, and Rachel walked in.
With the same expression she always wore, she spoke.

“Good work, everyone.”

Although her face didn’t show it, her voice was full of joy. Anyone could see that Rachel was currently ecstatic.

“Especially….”

Rachel looked at me and made a thin smile.

“Hajin-ssi. We were able to win thanks to Hajin-ssi eliminating their magician.”

“…I shouldn’t be praised. I went off on my own.”

“If you failed, we would have called you a troll. But since you succeeded, you’re a hero. I was shocked. I thought you were Guan Yu[1] when you suddenly said you were going to take their magician’s head.”

Yi Bokgyu said with a smile. Rachel continued looking at me for a while, then nodded warmly.

“Yes, well done.”

“By the way, where’s Jamer?”

Jin Hoseung then asked as he looked around the room.

“Jamer?”

“Oh right, Jamer’s not here. She did well too.”

When I tilted my head, Yi Bokgyu added.

“Jamer… Ah.”

I kept getting confused.
Jamer and Tomer.
Tomer was her real name and Jamer was her fake name.
Anyways, why hasn’t Tomer responded to the message I sent her about having found Fernin Jesus? Violet Banquet had a trustworthy system. Although I asked her for 300 million won, she shouldn’t be worrying about being scammed.
…Did she not have the money?

“Let me go find her.”

I stealthily left the waiting room.
I walked down the hallway and searched for Tomer.
She wasn’t in the bathroom and she wasn’t in a different waiting room.
Soon, I found her in an alley near a vending machine.
Tomer was hiding and calling someone.
I eavesdropped on her call as I walked towards her.

—Um, if you could loan me some money…

Just like I thought, Tomer didn’t have the money to pay for the information.
At Tomer’s careful question, the caller responded.

—Is that all you’re going to say? How long are you going to drag out what should only take two weeks to do?

He was clearly irritated.

—…Sorry.

—If you can’t close it out by the end of the week, prepare to receive punishment. Oh right, didn’t you also lose the item team leader sent you?

—Ah, about that…. I’m really sorry, but I’m pressed on money, so….

—Are you out of your mind? You sold it because you needed money!?

—No, no, I didn’t sell it. I just lost it….

—Yeah, I’m proud of you.

Tomer hung up the call dejectedly after being yelled at for a long time.

“Haa.”

She let out a deep sigh and turned around.
I was standing in front of her.

“…Hiik!”

She immediately froze.
However, nothing from the call would have indicated that she was a Djinn. She seemed to have realized it too as she breathed out a sigh of relief.
I asked her as I put coins into the vending machine.

“What happened? You’re short on money?”

“….”

Tomer walked past me silently.

“Want me to lend you some?”

But what I said carelessly seemed to have drawn her attention as she turned her head and looked at me.

“…You don’t know how much I need.”

“Well, you’re a magician. I can loan you as much as you want if you’re willing to write a promissory note.”

Magicians could rake in money if they wanted.
Clunk, clunk—
A bottle of Sprite rolled down from the vending machine.

“I might not look like it, but I’m quite rich.”

**


I left the duel arena, carrying my exhausted body along.
Our team’s second duel was at 3 P.M.

“There are only two duels left, so cheer up, Kim Hajin!”

“Hey, Kim Hajin!”

When I was encouraging myself, a familiar voice rang out behind me. I turned around and saw Chae Nayun walking up to me.

“Kim Suho wanted me to tell you he liked your match.”

“Kim Suho did?”

“Yeah, he went straight into his own match. By the way, how did you do that?”

“Do what?”

“Your bullet curved. What trickery is that?”

Chae Nayun asked with a furtive voice. I retorted simply.

“My Gift.”

“…What a boring explanation. …Huaam~”

Chae Nayun suddenly yawned and interlocked her fingers together behind her neck.

“Ah~ I want to fight too. My matches don’t start until after noon.”

“…I see.”

I tried to ignore her and go on my way, but I stopped because I saw someone in front of me.
Shin Jonghak and Yoo Yeonha were only about ten steps away.
Shin Jonghak’s dry and cold gaze fell on me. It felt like he was looking at me in disdain because of the emotionlessness in his eyes.
It was almost like I was in a haunted house.
He was handsome, but scary.

“….”

Shin Jonghak quietly looked back and forth between me and Chae Nayun. After receiving his gaze for a moment, Chae Nayun frowned and shot back.

“What do you want?”

“…Haha.”

Shin Jonghak’s laughter flowed out from the crevice between his teeth. Shin Jonghak liked this side of Chae Nayun, although Yoo Yeonha who was standing next to him didn’t seem to understand why.
Shin Jonghak sauntered toward us.
Almost as if to switch places with him, I walked past him.

“Are you leaving?”

Yoo Yeonha asked. Her eyes were still fixed on Shin Jonghak.

“Yeah. What about you? Are you going to your match?”

“Yes, it’s at 11 A.M.”

“…I see.”

As I walked past her, I suddenly remembered something.

“Oh right, hey.”

“…Yes?”

Only then did Yoo Yeonha turn to face me.
I spoke briefly and simply.

“Bullets. 5.56 mm.”

“…You want me to get you some?”

“Yeah, but a lot of them.”

“It’s possible… but what do you need assault rifle bullets for?”

“I think I’ll need them in the future.”

“Hmm, hold on.”

Yoo Yeonha immediately turned on her smartwatch.

“How many?”

“About… six hundred?”

“Six… what?”

“Six hundred.”

“…You know that high rank 5.56 mm magic bullets are at least 200,000 won per bullet, right?”

“So in total it’ll be 120 million. Is it too much?”

I gave her a look of disappointment. After looking at me in a daze, Yoo Yeonha suddenly put on the smile of a queen.

“…Pft. I can do something like that with my eyes closed, so don’t try to scratch my pride needlessly. So, do you also need a weapon to go with it?”

“No, the bullets are all I need.”

I was about to place my hand on Yoo Yeonha’s shoulder out of habit, but I realized it half-way through and stopped.
Kuhum. I let out a dry cough, then put my hands in my pocket. Yoo Yeonha hated people touching her.

“I’m leaving now.”

“Yes…. Ah, wait.”

This time, Yoo Yeonha grabbed me.

“It’s about that ginseng.”

“What about it?”

“We’ll be able to make medicine with it in two weeks. So I was wondering…”

“Are you asking if I have any more?”

“…Yes. It’s looking like it’ll take a long time for us to look for proper traders.”

I rubbed my chin and pondered.
Ginseng.
To be honest, I felt like I could obtain one by hiking a few times.

“I can’t say for sure that I’ll be able to, but if I do, I’ll trade it for your company’s shares. How about it?”

“That’s fine.”

While we were talking, I could hear Shin Jonghak’s voice from the back.

—Chae Nayun, why are you staying close with someone like him?

—What? What are you spouting so suddenly?

—….You didn’t forget about what happened before, right? You were the one who said he was weird and told me to squash him.

—Eh? Ah, no, um… I misunderstood him at the time…

‘Someone like him’.
It was a bit unpleasant to hear, but that’s just how Shin Jonghak was.
He had strong pride in his bloodline and status.
Even in reality, they were something to be proud of.
Although the nobleness of his bloodline couldn’t compare to a royalty’s, Shin Jonghak’s ancestor was a prime minister who served a king, and Shin Jonghak’s grandfather, Shin Myungchul, was a true noble who saved starving Koreans after Outcall.

“…Just ignore him. Jonghak doesn’t know much about you.”

Yoo Yeonha said so as she studied my face.

“I don’t really mind.”

I walked past them and trudged to the lounge area.

**


7 P.M.
All my team duels ended, and I returned home exhausted.

“Hajin! Hajin!”

As soon as I opened the door, Evandel scurried up to me with a sullen face.

“Hajin! Hayang scratched me!”

She put her right arm out with teary eyes. I looked at her arm and saw a very light scratch mark.
Haa.
I swallowed my sigh.
One of the rules of childcare: never look bothered by your child.

“…How?”

“I don’t know. Hayang is a meanie! Hayang, you meanie!”

Evandel turned to Hayang and shouted.
I also looked at Hayang. She was on the couch yawning and acting self-important.

“She scratched you even though you didn’t do anything?”

“Un! I didn’t do anything wrong….”

Would a cat scratch someone for no reason?
I looked around the room. Cat treats were sprawled around the floor. The treat was called Churu, and it was delicious even for humans.
I told Evandel to give it Hayang only once per day… but I was somewhat doubtful.
But even if Evandel was curious and liked eating…

“Evandel, you didn’t do something like touching Hayang’s treat, right?”

“….”

Evandel flinched.

“…You did?”

“N-No… I just wanted to know how yummy it was because Hayang liked it so much… I only wanted a taste….”

Evandel made excuses, and I watched her slightly dumbstruck.
Then suddenly, my smartwatch rang.
It was a message from Rachel.

[Hajin-ssi! Happy birthday~~ ^—^!]
[This is my gift. Good job on the duels today.]
[Let’s go to a karaoke once exams end ~.~]

“…Birthday?”

I tilted my head.
Then, I remembered that today was September 8th. It was indeed my birthday.
I turned on my smartwatch, wondering how Rachel knew.
I quickly found out as I had a party hat saying ‘Happy Birthday’ on my messenger profile.


1. A famous general from the Three Kingdoms era; known as the God of War.

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