Chohong arrived at the Huge Stone Rocky Mountain around noon. She was unable to sit or walk comfortably the entire trip, even though she was visiting what should be a nostalgic place.
Since the only memories she had of the mountain were rolling on the ground like a dog, taking a breath of air made her feel more disgusted than refreshed.
‘Being a temporary leader really saved my ass….’
After arriving at the place Jang Maldong had told her about, Chohong let out a deep sigh before craning her neck out and looking around the vicinity. She could see something black moving in a zigzag from one mountain peak to the other in the distance.
She waited until it came near, and when she waved her hands, Hugo stopped after descending the mountain slope. He looked at Chohong and wiped off his dripping sweat.
“Rejoice! Your Messiah has come to save you from your distress.”
“Messiah…. Why couldn’t you have come earlier?”
“Watch what you say! This mountain is the territory of an evil devil. Even I, the Messiah, have to risk unimaginable danger to get here.”
“Fuck, you call yourself a Messiah when your own safety is the first thing on your priority list?”
When Hugo grumbled, Chohong giggled uncontrollably.
“Since you’re still up and running, I’m guessing that it wasn’t half bad, huh?”
“No, no,” Hugo shook his head and grinned.
“I trained earnestly while a certain someone was lazing around at home.”
“Just you wait, I’ll show you the fruits of my training, fufufufu!”
Chohong’s facial muscles twitched hearing Hugo’s declaration of war. She placed her hand by her ear and leaned forward toward him.
“What did you say?”
“Are you deaf?”
“Huh? Oh, I’m sorry. I just couldn’t hear what you said because it was coming from a LOSER who’s not even a High Ranker.”
Hugo’s expression stiffened.
“Y-You’re only a false High Ranker.”
“Mhm, next Level 4 who can’t even become a false High Ranker, please.”
Hugo pounced on her before quickly backing off. Chohong had taken out her ‘+2 Thorn of Steel’.
“Kyaaa, look at this thing. It’s gorgeous no matter how many times I marvel at it. Don’t you agree?”
“You know, I’ve actually been itching for a fight. For some reason, I haven’t seen a single monster on my way up here either.”
When Chohong glanced at him, Hugo flinched and shouted in injustice.
“Y-You just got lucky with Seol giving you that mace!”
“Like you’re the one to speak. Didn’t you take Khan’s halberd when he died in the Forest of Denial?”
“That and this are separate matters!”
“Yeah, yeah~ What can I do~? Seol just likes me more. If you aren’t happy, go appeal to him too~” Chohong smirked and sneered at Hugo.
“Anyways, should you really be worried about me? You lost all your equipment when you got captured last time.”
Chohong stabbed where it hurt the most, and Hugo’s face contorted. In the end… “Huaaaang!” He burst into tears and ran off.
“Hmph, you’re no match for me.” Chohong snorted and walked onward leisurely. Soon, she spotted a bizarre old tree. It was a tree measuring more than two arms’ width around, but more importantly, its leaves had all fallen on the ground.
‘Damn, the old man must have come up with another strange training method.’ That was the first thing she thought of when she saw this poor old tree. Soon, she found the cave hideout on the hill. When she saw Jang Maldong standing in front of it, she immediately bowed down to her waist.
Jang Maldong replied without even looking at her.
“You look nice.”
“How can you tell when you haven’t even looked at me?”
“I only need to hear your voice to know.”
“If you’re thinking about making me train, stop dreaming. I need to go back soon to take care of an important matter.”
Chohong paused, as Jang Maldong had raised his hand. However, he was staring into the distance with a thoughtful look.
Chohong also turned her gaze. There, she saw a youth stabbing and slicing the air with a spear. He displayed a series of spear techniques while dodging about a dozen wooden logs flying toward him.
“You’re already making him do that?”
“Be quiet.” Jang Maldong crossed his arms, tapping his arm with his right thumb.
“Oh?” Chohong exclaimed in surprise, seeing Seol Jihu dodge the logs rather well.
“How many has he dodged so far?”
Chohong stood tall and watched the youth with a relaxed expression. However, that only lasted a moment. Once the youth surpassed 200, and then 300 dodges, she couldn’t help but jump in surprise.
“Isn’t this his first training?”
The moment she asked this, Seol Jihu collapsed. Several logs had unexpectedly shot toward him from all directions. Perhaps he had miscalculated, as he couldn’t dodge one of them and was struck on his side.
Jang Maldong’s thumb stopped.
A satisfied smile bloomed on his aged face.
“So he finally surpassed 300. That’s his newest record.”
“Wow! Then again, my highest record is 1008.”
“You pulled that off once.”
“But a record is a record.”
“You’re right. Though, you did take over a year to accomplish that.”
“…Chet.” Chohong turned away. Jang Maldong smiled as he watched Seol Jihu kicking himself, before turning around and facing Chohong.
“So what’s this important matter?”
“It’s not just one or two things. There’s even this huge incident….”
“I’ll explain on our way back. The carriage driver is probably shaking in his seat.”
“You sure are pulling all sorts of tricks to avoid training.”
“I’m not! Anyways, hurry!”
Chohong shouted indignantly before running down the hill. Jang Maldong smirked and then shouted that the training was over. Seol Jihu and Hugo immediately came running.
As they had already packed their bags in the morning, it didn’t take long for them to get going.
Seol Jihu threw his bags over his shoulder, and then glanced back. Looking at the cave he had stayed in for the past month, a bittersweet feeling welled up inside him.
‘I can always come back later.’
Shortly afterward, he made a refreshing smile and turned back.
The carriage carrying Carpe Diem’s four members began to race toward Haramark at full speed.
“So what’s this huge incident?” Jang Maldong asked once the speed picked up.
Chohong, who was grumbling about the sweaty smell Hugo and Seol Jihu were giving off, spat a mouthful of saliva out of the carriage before opening her mouth.
“First, hundreds of villagers from Ramman Village moved into the city.”
As Jang Maldong felt deep sympathy and all sorts of indebtedness towards Paradisians, he immediately expressed his interest.
“Hoho, that should have happened a long time ago! After all, Ramman Village is close to the border region…. Anyways, I suspect that there were some unhappy voices. There’s also the problem with where they would stay.”
“Actually, it’s been pretty quiet.”
“Quiet? I doubt those bastards playing real estate would sit still and watch.”
“What can they do when the rightful owner of the land tells them to give it up? Well, the royal family took the initiative to concede half of the land to the villagers. More importantly, the Temple of Luxuria publicly announced their support for the Haramark Royal Family’s decision.”
“The Temple of Luxuria did?”
Jang Maldong was looking at the youth sitting next to him with a grin when he heard this and became surprised.
“They didn’t just support the royal family with words. They said they would even support the move directly.” Chohong continued, “In fact, just a few days after the announcement, the Daughter of Luxuria appeared in Haramark.”
Jang Maldong’s eyes widened greatly. Hugo also dropped his jaw, and then a gulp went down his throat.
“The Executor is personally overseeing this matter? No, she’s the one who made the announcement?”
“Hey, did you see her?”
When Jang Maldong and Hugo asked at the same time, Chohong cleared her throat.
“The Temple of Luxuria made the announcement, but there is a ton of people who think she’s the one who made the call. I’m also one of them.”
“Of course, she is someone who has saved Paradise from danger numerous times. She must have lent a hand so that there wouldn’t be any problem with the move.”
Jang Maldong nodded his head referring to her politely. Although they had no prior contact, he saw her in a favorable light from all the stories he had heard about her feats.
“She is most certainly the type to do something like that. She must have come to Haramark to help with the move personally.”
“Well, here’s where the huge incident comes in.”
Chohong paused as if what she had to say next eclipsed everything she said before. Jang Maldong scowled.
“Hurry up and say it!”
“Heeey, I’m asking if you saw her!!”
Hugo also shouted. Chohong giggled in response.
“Remember the building in front of our office that went under construction?”
“Now that you mention it, it did change.”
“The owner of that building is the Daughter of Luxuria.”
“I know! She moved right in front of us!”
“Really?” Jang Maldong revealed a strong hint of suspicion, and Chohong immediately jumped up.
“Come on! Have you been tricked your whole life? I saw her tending to her garden just this morning!”
Judging from Chohong’s reaction, it didn’t seem like she was lying.
“Anyways, that’s been the talk of the entire city for the past few days. There was even a huge crowd in front of the building.”
“Hoh…. Why would she move to Haramark…?”
Jang Maldong leaned back in his seat with a face that said he just couldn’t figure it out. Then, after a brief moment of silence, he opened his mouth.
“It’s indeed a huge incident.”
“Now we have another thing to brag about! Being neighbors with the Daughter of Luxuria!”
“That’s enough nonsense out of you. What about Kazuki?”
“He’s under a lot of stress.”
Chohong smacked her lips.
“He seems to be trying hard… but it looks like there’s an outside interference.”
Jang Maldong furrowed his brows.
“Why didn’t you help?”
“It’s not like I didn’t want to. I might have connections with Archers and Warriors but none with Priests. You should know this.”
Chohong shrugged her shoulders, and Jang Maldong showed signs of annoyance.
“Tsk, looks like the Japan Business Federation has finally done it….”
“Well, it’s Tsuji Yuki we’re talking about here. Just wait. There’s still time left, and I doubt Kazuki will simply sit still.”
That was the end of the conversation, as Jang Maldong dropped his head and fell into deep contemplation.
Chohong stretched and slowly leaned against Seol Jihu, who was staring blankly into the air.
“Are you looking at your Status Window? How is it? Did you make good progress?”
Just like Chohong said, Seol Jihu was currently busy studying his Status Window.
[Your Status Window]
Summoned Date: 2017. 03. 16
Marking Grade: Gold
Sex/Age: Male / 26
Height/ Weight: 180.5cm / 70.2kg
Current Condition: Healthy
Class: Lv 3. Mana Lancer
Nationality: South Korea (Area 1)
Affiliation: Carpe Diem
Alias: Top Graduate, First Star, Headache, Crybaby, Prankster, Training Masochist
—Self-command (Suppresses emotions, greed, and impulses with the rational will)
—Tenacity (A deeply rooted temper of wanting to endure pain and struggles)
—Short-tempered (impatient and hasty)
—Effort (Endeavors with both body and mind to achieve a goal)
—Average (Normal in every way; possesses no particular talent)
[3. Physical Level]
Strength: Intermediate (Low) ↑1
Endurance: Low (High)
Agility: Intermediate (Low)
Stamina: Intermediate (Low) ↑1
Mana: Intermediate (High)
Luck: Intermediate (Low)
Remaining Ability Points: 6
1. Innate Abilities (2)
—Future Vision (Grade Unknown)
—Nine Eyes (Grade Unknown)
2. Class Abilities (4)
—Basic Spear Techniques: Thrust (High), Strike [Intermediate (High)], Cut [Intermediate (High)]
—Mana Spear - Multiple [Intermediate (Low)]
—Mana Circulation [Intermediate (High)]
3. Other Abilities (2)
—Reinforced Circuit (High)
[5. Level of Cognition]
Moderate (Actions and thoughts are sensible; hard-working) / Enthusiastic / Chaotic (Many things are jumbled up and is impossible to unravel)
“So you did make progress?”
When Chohong asked again, Seol Jihu chuckled as he rubbed his thinly grown beard.
“A little. I should be able to call myself a Level 3 proudly.”
Chohong rebutted, “Who on Paradise sees you as a Level 3?” And Seol Jihu immediately returned a wry smile. Honestly speaking, he was quite satisfied with his current status. Since raising the physical level from ‘Low’ to ‘Intermediate’ required 2 ability points, he had gained at least 4 ability points’ worth of physical level increase.
His abilities also made great strides. Learning ‘Intuition’ was something he was especially proud of. Although its grade was low, he was satisfied with just the fact that he had learned it.
‘A foundation to balance my mind, technique, and body….’
It was then…. He was late to notice the change as he was only looking at his physical level and traits, but he had also gained a series of new aliases.
Tilting his head, Seol Jihu read the detailed information.
[First Star (The best of the three stars that rose in the Neutral Zone of March 2017)]
“Ooh!” He let out a suppressed exclamation of awe. Then….
[Headache (Causes others great worry)]
He couldn’t hide his surprise.
[Crybaby (A child who cries easily)]
[Prankster (Mischievous rascal who likes to pull pranks)]
[Training Masochist (A training fanatic)]
Well… he could see where Crybaby, Prankster, and Training Masochist were coming from, but….
He couldn’t agree with ‘Headache’ in the slightest.
‘Who is it?’
Seol Jihu could think of one person who might be responsible for giving him this alias. At the same time, he remembered something he had forgotten to do and went, “Ah!”
Thankfully, it wasn’t too late. After breathing a sigh of relief, Seol Jihu reminded himself to take care of it as soon as he returned to Haramark.
Seven days remained until the spawning of the entrances. The entire Haramark region was heated up, and Seol Jihu got busy as soon as they returned.
First, as he didn’t know much about the Banquet, he needed to obtain the basic info. Although he could have simply asked Jang Maldong, he decided to go to the library as he wanted to develop a habit of investigating things himself.
Second, he needed to quickly procure his defensive equipment as the previous rescue mission rendered most of his armor useless.
‘I can’t just buy anything.’
He could take care of his problem in a single day by going to Haramark’s smithy, but after getting used to the high standards set by his spear, earring, and bracelet, he wanted to purchase good equipment.
‘It’s not like I’m short on money.’
Warriors needing quality armor was the most basic common sense. He figured this would be an excellent opportunity to purchase one.
However, there was another issue that needed to be dealt with utmost urgency.
—Wow~ You’re a human being now~
And that was to contact Kim Hannah.
—Don’t laugh. You see, I thought you forgot again or were staying put.
Beyond the communication crystal, Kim Hannah let out a big yawn as she leaned against the back of her chair. Her arms were resting on the armrest and her legs were placed up on the table, making her look extremely relaxed.
—Since I decided to trust you, I thought it was the latter.
Seol Jihu flinched.
—So I was thinking, ‘Wow, he’s really taking it easy~ What a good boy~’ and… huh?
Kim Hannah paused, with her tone going up toward the end of her murmuring.
—Hey, what happened to your face?
“My face?” Seol Jihu touched his face.
—You haven’t shaved… like you just came out of the mountains after living there for a month.
Only then did Seol Jihu realize the state he was in.
“Ah, well, there’s something I need to tell you.”
Clunk. Just as he was about to explain, the sound of the door opening rang out.
“Seol, are you here?”
For a split second, Kim Hannah was frightened out of her wits, but Seol Jihu didn’t notice it as he had turned around to check the door.
Jang Maldong paused in the middle of walking in.
“You were calling someone? It’s fine. I’ll come back later.”
“N-No, it’s fine. Hold on just a moment.”
And when Seol Jihu looked back at the communication crystal….
He subconsciously brought his face near the crystal. Kim Hannah’s clothes, hairstyle, posture….
There were more than one or two things he wanted to point out. However, his mouth refused to open up for some reason.
—I see, you want to participate in the Banquet….
Before he even noticed, her loosened hair was tied up in a neat ponytail. Seol Jihu stared at the crystal before rubbing his eyes with his hands.
—What’s wrong? Are your eyes okay?
A soft, caring voice rang out. Kim Hannah could sound this gentle?
While Seol Jihu was dumbstruck and confused, Jang Maldong let out a dry cough.
Kim Hannah’s eyes widened like a rabbit’s, and she covered her mouth in a graceful manner.
—Who’s that gentleman?
Seol Jihu became speechless.Previous Chapter Next Chapter