It was unknown whether this change was influenced by Seol Jihu’s decision, but his body came to accept the Essence of Soma as if it was family.
The essence took root as an inner core in Seol Jihu’s dantian, and once the fusing process fully elapsed, Seol Jihu’s body became noticeably better.
By dinnertime, Seol Jihu considered going back to training, but Seo Yuhui’s vehement protest made him watch the Yi siblings instead.
Watching them was fun in its own way.
Yi Sungjin was doing nothing but toiling away extremely hard, and Phi Sora was surprisingly helping him train.
That said, all she was doing was standing on a small hill, rolling down decently sized big boulders. She also made it clear that Jang Maldong was forcing her to do this, but the simple fact that she was helping was still an improvement.
When a boulder skipped down the hill, Yi Sungjin would grit his teeth and use his body as a shield to crash against it.
Jang Maldong’s rebuke followed if he tripped even a little.
On the other hand…
“Didn’t you say you were a Tracker?”
“Yes, I am!”
“Then I don’t know why you are asking me. I am a Level 4 Archer, but I am heavily focused on offense. Tracking is not my specialty.”
“I was hoping you could teach me just the basics….”
“I’m busy trying to regain my battle instincts. Don’t bother me.”
When Marcel Ghionea turned back with a cold reply, Yi Seol-Ah shouted in a hurry.
“B-But! Orabeo-nim and Master Jang told me to study under you….”
“Shall we start then?”
“Tracking isn’t my specialty, but I will teach you what I can. Generally, there are two types of Level 2 Archers — Rangers and Trackers. Since you’re the latter, you should be walking on the path of Pathfinders. Now, I will teach you what it means to be a Pathfinder….”
Seol Jihu laughed after seeing Marcel Ghionea do a complete 180. Then, as the training was coming to an end, he volunteered to help cook.
Although he already had dinner, he knew how hungry one would get after a difficult training.
Seol Jihu had chosen ramen as the day’s late-night meal.
He had brought some with him, hoping to eat a bit when he missed it, but he did not get the chance due to Seo Yuhui’s late-night meals.
He became busy with setting fire, boiling water, putting in the noodles and soup powder, and cracking open eggs….
When the smell of ramen began to spread out, the people, who were resting on the ground or returning after bathing in the lake, gathered.
Seol Jihu held up chopsticks and paper cups he’d prepared beforehand.
“Anybody want some? I made enough to go around.”
“Ramen at this time of night? You should be resting.”
Jang Maldong grumbled.
“I, I want some.”
However, Seo Yuhui surprisingly raised her hand with sparkling eyes. She was even drooling.
As this side of her was something everyone found difficult to even imagine, they stared at her curiously.
But ignoring such stares, Seo Yuhui took a paper cup full of ramen and quickly took a mouthful.
She clasped her hands together, hunched her shoulders, and shuddered.
“Ah, really, this ramen! I don’t know how long I’ve waited!”
She shouted inadvertently before realizing the surrounding peculiar stares and chuckling awkwardly.
“It, it’s well made. I’ve been wanting to eat ramen for a while….”
Murmuring in a diminishing voice, she quietly went back to eating ramen.
“Oh, wow, so she’s speaking casually now, huh.”
Phi Sora snorted before nudging Seol Jihu.
“I can have some too, right? I helped with the training today.”
“Go ahead. I would have let you have some even if you didn’t help with the training.”
When Seol Jihu handed Phi Sora a cup of ramen, she took it somewhat arrogantly. But it didn't take long until her ‘let’s see what it tastes like’ expression made a complete turn.
After a bite, her eyes widened, and after the second, she grew dubious.
Next, she poured the entire cup into her mouth.
Breathing out a hot breath, she reached toward the pot, which was still full of ramen. Her chopsticks clashed with Seo Yuhui’s, who was also reaching out for more at the same time.
Electricity flew in the air as the two women glared at each other.
The corner of Phi Sora’s mouth twisted up.
“Unni, didn’t you finish a cup already?”
“Same goes for you, Miss Phi Sora.”
“I hope you can concede. I have to gain weight, you see. But you, Unni….”
Phi Sora glanced at Seo Yuhui from top to bottom, making her thoughts extremely clear. Seo Yuhui laughed in response.
“Don’t worry. Any fat I gain from eating all goes to my breasts.”
“…Ah, I see.”
Clang, clang. Even as they talked, their chopsticks clashed nonstop. Just as Seol Jihu was wondering how two pairs of chopsticks could even make such a sound, Jang Maldong let out a dry cough.
“Kuhum. What happened?”
“Pardon? Ah, we decided to be close, like an older sister and a younger brother.”
“Ah, well, I guess that’s fine. Anyways, I’ll try a cup too.”
It seemed that was his real intention. Seol Jihu smiled and handed Jang Maldong a cup.
Soon, with the sound of slurping noodles, Jang Maldong’s eyes widened and he burst into laughter.
“Haha! You little bastard! Why don’t you open up a ramen shop?”
“Is it good?”
“It slides down my throat like magic.”
Yi Seol-Ah took a cup and hopped in with a comment.
An unexpected ramen party broke out.
On this silent night…
“Jihu, Noona wants more ramen….”
“I’ll make more right away.”
Under the quiet night sky…
“Ah, hurry up! I’m hungry!”
“Alright, alright, just wait a bit more.”
“Eii, I don’t usually eat ramen. Why is this so good? Did you put in drugs or something?”
A group was gathered around a crackling campfire…
“Miss Phi Sora is right. This noodle is chewy and full of flavor, and even the soup is incredible…. Orabeo-nim, how did you make this ramen?”
“I just follow the instructions on the back.”
“Ei, don’t be like that. Tell me the secret.”
“I’m being serious. Who knows more about ramen than the person who created it? Just follow the instructions.”
Everyone laughed and talked while sharing a pot of ramen. Seeing how much everyone was enjoying the ramen he cooked, Seol Jihu was overwhelmed with happiness.
This minor incident, in which eating ramen made everyone happy, touched Seol Jihu. If he could, he would not hesitate to stop time and hold onto this moment forever.
‘I hope every day will be like this moment.’
How nice would it be if he could enjoy every passing day without having to worry about anything?
Of course, he knew that he couldn’t stay in Huge Stone Rocky Mountain forever… but Seol Jihu hoped this time would last a little longer.
‘Anyways, should I really start a ramen shop in the future?’
Seeing how popular his ramen was even in Paradise, Seol Jihu made a mental note to look into a vacant shop when he returned to Haramark as he laid down on his sleeping bag.
Soon, Seol Jihu breathed periodically and fell asleep. The smile on his face made him look extremely happy, and he really did feel that way on the inside.
Until dawn arrived.
Seol Jihu’s sweet sleep came to an end when someone shook him awake. Seo Yuhui, who also looked half-asleep, was shaking him urgently.
“Wake up. Hurry!”
As soon as Seol Jihu crawled out of his sleeping bag, Seo Yuhui handed him several crystals, which were all flickering with incoming calls.
Seol Jihu had brought a total of four communication crystals, each connected to Kim Hannah, Sicilia, the Haramark Royal Palace, and Carpe Diem, respectively.
The problem was that all four of these crystals were blinking.
This was the first time that all four groups were trying to contact him simultaneously.
He wasn’t sure, but it did not seem like a simple matter.
He was roused awake in an instant.
After a moment of hesitation, Seol Jihu infused his mana into each crystal. Then, the communication crystals turned on.
Starting with Teresa…
—You’re finally awake.
And even Kim Hannah.
Kim Hannah looked around and, upon seeing three other communication crystals, made a dumbfounded face.
—You goddamn idiot…!
Pat. Kim Hannah’s crystal flickered off. The other three women looked at each other in confusion before Teresa finally spoke up.
—Miss Agnes, Miss Chung Chohong, I will tell him the news.
Pat. Pat. Agnes and Chohong’s crystals flickered off.
Now, only one communication crystal remained. Teresa tried her best to sound calm, but a faintly trembling voice escaped her mouth.
—Where are you right now?
“I’m at Huge Stone Rocky Mountain.”
“We had new recruits. I also went to train under Master Jang. Um…?”
Seol Jihu furrowed his brows in the middle of talking. Wiiiing— It was because he could faintly hear the sound of a siren.
—I see. I thought you… right, there’s no way you would.
‘No way I would what?’
Seol Jihu tilted his head and asked.
“What happened, Princess?”
—Seol, listen to me carefully.
Teresa who sounded relieved suddenly turned serious. Seol Jihu realized the gravity of the situation and listened in while suppressing his nervousness.
Soon, Seol Jihu’s face contorted, and he exclaimed in shock.
—It’s not just us. All royal families other than Scheherazade issued a draft-call.
“But why so suddenly…?”
Seol Jihu shut his mouth and nibbled on his lip.
“Understood. We will return as soon as possible. No, we’ll be there today.”
The call ended.
Seol Jihu and Seo Yuhui stared at each other for a moment before beginning to wake everyone up one by one.
“What is it…?”
Jang Maldong, who was sleep talking with a drowsy face, shot up as soon as he heard the news.
“W-What?! The Parasites have gathered an army?!”
His hoarse voice was roused awake and let out a startled yelp.
“It’s not just Haramark. Apparently, they are encroaching upon the entire human territory from all sides.”
“Ha, so they finally did it….”
Jang Maldong stared at Seo Yuhui and asked.
“What about the Federation?”
“We’re not sure. All we heard is that we should return as soon as possible. We’ll have to wait to find out the details.”
“The training is over. Pack your bags and contact Chohong.”
The situation suddenly turned urgent. The silent cave grew loud in the blink of an eye.
By the time everyone finished packing, Flone returned to the cave after having been gone for a while. Like a ghost, she had returned when she sensed that the group was about to leave.
‘Wait, she is a ghost.’
Flone looked strangely wistful after hearing the explanation.
[That’s unfortunate. I wanted to go explore with you.]
[You have this pendant.]
The pendant on Seol Jihu’s neck shook.
[Grandpa told me about its secret.]
[Do you remember when I told you about how Grandpa hid the family’s wealth before going to the greedy emperor’s villa?]
[Don’t be surprised. He said this pendant has the coordinates for the location of the hidden wealth!]
This pendant contained the coordinates for the hidden wealth of the Rothschear family, which was famous for being rich even in the era of the Empire?
Although it was an enticing piece of info, now wasn’t the time to think about it.
Now that the Parasites had raised an army, a mere exploration or an expedition was a trivial matter.
“Sorry, now isn’t a good time.”
[No, it’s fine. You said those undead bastards are invading?]
[Then we can go after we kill all of them, right?]
Seeing Flone twist her neck and wrist, Seol Jihu laughed.
He inwardly thanked Flone for making him laugh.
Then, he suddenly had a feeling that this couldn’t be the only secret behind the pendant. While he was racking his brain trying to connect the dots, a communication crystal flickered on.
She was there just a moment ago, so he had been worried when she wasn’t picking up.
—Yeah. It’s about a carriage, right?
“Did you send one?”
—I went to the stables to look into it, but returned because it didn’t look like I had to.
“What do you mean?”
—Never mind that. You know the place the carriage always drops you off at the foot of Huge Stone Rocky Mountain, right? Go there in the morning and wait.
Seol Jihu understood what Chohong meant when morning arrived.
Just to be safe, the group had been waiting at the usual place from dawn. When the sun rose, a carriage had arrived.
The one who got off from the carriage was Hugo.
“I’ve come to meet, no save, my future wife.”
“I hesitated a little… but Hell is only a little scary if it is for my first future wife…. Huh? Why is everyone here?”
Hugo, who blabbered with air, asked when he saw everyone with their bags packed. From the looks of it, it seemed like he didn’t know what happened.
He must have left Haramark before the news broke.
Thinking ‘nice timing’, Seol Jihu made a deal with the carriage coachman before hopping on the carriage with Seo Yuhui.
Jang Maldong tapped the frozen Hugo’s shoulders as he brushed by.
“Even a dog’s turd can be used for medicine…. Good job.”
Soon, the sound of someone causing a ruckus outside rang out. The uproar didn’t last long as Hugo must have heard what happened, but he had no choice but to return to Haramark as soon as he arrived at Huge Stone Rocky Mountain.
With a face that was neither crying nor laughing.
The coachman whipped his rein.
As Seol Jihu had given him an extra silver coin to go as fast as possible, the horses ran as though their lives were on the line.
The inside of the carriage was dead silent. Jang Maldong, who was fiddling with his wooden cane, broke the silence.
“I have a bad feeling about this one….”
Yi Seol-Ah, who was already unable to sit comfortably, tightened her grip on her younger brother’s hand with a nervous face.
“The Parasites’ invasions so far had all been ambushes. But this time….”
Jang Maldong blurred the end of his speech, but Seol Jihu could guess what came next without having to hear it.
An invasion of such a massive scale was like a bolt of lightning from a clear sky, but Seol Jihu tried his best to maintain his composure and looked at the air.
[Your Status Window]
[3. Physical Level]
Strength: Intermediate (Intermediate) ↑1
Endurance: Intermediate (Low) ↑1
Agility: Intermediate (Intermediate) ↑1
Stamina: Intermediate (Intermediate) ↑1
Mana: Intermediate (High)
Luck: Intermediate (Intermediate) ↑1
Remaining Ability Points: 10
His stats had gone up by quite a bit. It was the equivalent of consuming five Divine Elixirs or of using 10 Ability Points.
Purely in terms of physical level, he was comparable or even above most High Rankers.
That wasn’t all.
When he roused his mana, golden energy began to coalesce in his hand.
The crackling golden energy looked supremely beautiful and powerful.
Things were completely different than when he was Level 1 and left for Arden Valley without knowing anything.
His stats were incomparably better, he had obtained the evil-hunting power, and most importantly, he had gained several reliable allies.
‘I have to win.’
‘I will win.’
Looking at his golden mana, Seol Jihu’s eyes flickered with determination.Previous Chapter Next Chapter