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Yoo Yeonha called Chae Nayun and asked if what Kim Hajin said was true. Chae Nayun carefully explained what happened the day before, and it was exactly as Kim Hajin said. In fact, Chae Nayun went so far as to make a definitive claim.
"There's no way Kim Hajin is a Djinn", she said.
The meeting was disbanded afterwards. Kim Hajin stomped out of the room, while Kim Suho and Yi Yeonghan chased after him.
Once the short yet fierce disturbance passed by, room 303 became silent. The three remaining people didn't speak. In the midst of the silence, Yoo Yeonha saw Kim Horak massaging his right shoulder.
"…Does it hurt?"
"N-No, I'm fine."
"That was your Gift, right?"
Many cadets already knew about Kim Horak's Gift. That was how straightforward it was.
A simple and brute Gift that instantly amplified his body's explosive and destructive power. This easy-to-understand Gift was one of the strongest Gifts for martial arts.
But Kim Hajin had dodged his attack easily. His movement wasn't flashy or nimble in any way. Almost as though he simply tripped, he had used a concise movement to dodge Kim Horak, whose Gift was specialized for martial arts.
Kim Horak dodged Yoo Yeonha's gaze. He wasn't feeling sorry about wrongfully accusing Kim Hajin. He was only embarrassed that his attack had been so easily dodged.
Yoo Yeonha sighed and glanced at Shin Jonghak. For a while, he was only staring at his smartwatch. Was he messaging Chae Nayun? That's what Yoo Yeonha worried about.
"Jonghak, what are you up to?"
Yoo Yeonha approached him with an affectionate smile. Shin Jonghak answered without bothering to give Yoo Yeonha a glance.
"I'm looking to see if there's more of an item I bought."
"Yeah, I bought something."
"What did you buy~?"
Yoo Yeonha pulled on Shin Jonghak's arm and acted cute in her own way.
"You don't need to know."
But Shin Jonghak pushed her away. Yoo Yeonha's face froze at his cold action.
"…Tsk. If we're done, I'm leaving."
Shin Jonghak clicked his tongue and got up. In his mind, his action was justified. The website he was looking at was the famous Violet Banquet. However, Cube's cadets were prohibited from being a member of that website. It wasn't just Violet Banquet. Owning any black market ID was enough to get a cadet expelled.
Even so, his indifferent attitude hurt Yoo Yeonha's feelings.
"Kim Horak, aren't you coming?"
"Huh? Oh, yeah."
Kim Horak, who was peeking at Yoo Yeonha's face, followed Shin Jonghak like a puppy.
Just like that, Yoo Yeonha became alone. She looked around the empty room. Suddenly, anger surged up from her heart. This wasn't the first time something like this had happened. Now, she was beginning to get upset.
'Shin Jonghak you bastard, just which part of Chae Nayun is better than me? Ehew. But what can I do, I just have to try harder.'
When Yoo Yeonha was about to chase after Shin Jonghak, her smartwatch vibrated.
It was a message from Yun Hyun.
—There's going to be a preparatory exam next Monday. You're coming, right?
Club activities stopped during exam periods, but the academics club offered peer tutoring during this time.
Yoo Yeonha started typing, but she suddenly remembered what Kim Hajin said. That the culprit of this incident was Yun Hyun…
Yoo Yeonha dismissed the idea once again and sent her reply.
9 P.M… I was sitting on a bench. I already chased away Kim Suho and Yi Yeonghan, who followed me to comfort me.
In an empty park, I stared up at the night sky all alone. I released the bitterness in my heart.
I reflected on what happened. Not only was I thrown into my own novel, I even got into an argument with characters I created with love. All sorts of feelings I had kept pent up in my heart exploded today.
I wanted to stop. I wanted to go back to my old, one-room house. I wanted to see my parents. I avoided them, saying I was too busy, but now I was full of regrets.
How was the time flowing in my old world? If it was the same as this place, I should be a missing person by now. I might even be considered dead by the time I go back. After all, I would have to spend close to 10 years in this world.
At this point, I was glad I raised my perseverance stat. In this world, I had nothing. The memories I built up, the relationships, the feelings, none of them were here.
My old self wouldn't have been able to endure it. Even if I didn't have the courage to commit suicide, I would have given up on the hope of returning home. I might have given up being part of the main storyline and gone on to live a normal life.
"Ah, I want to see you, Mom."
It didn't feel right saying this as a 26-year-old man, but my voice trembled from the deep sincerity in my heart.
I hoped she was healthy. I hoped she getting along with Dad.
If time was flowing normally in the other world, I hoped they would find out about me going missing as late as possible. I didn't want to even imagine them being sad because of me.
Once I began to think along this line, it just didn't seem to end.
I remembered my friends. I cursed them from time to time for calling me when I was busy, but I missed them, especially today. Even the seniors from college and the army, who liked to mess with me, popped up in my head.
Both good and bad connections I've made in my life lit up in my heart like stars.
But the outside world was still dark, and not even a faint starlight existed in its sky.
Dreaming of stars in a starless world only filled me with anguish.
I wiped my reddened eyes and stood up. The handgun in my hand was still cold and heavy. The sensation was like a familiar scent.
My high perseverance stat indeed gave me an amazing recuperative power. A day was enough to mend my broken mentality, and after working out, hunting, and buying stocks, as usual, the weekend flew by in the blink of an eye.
"Exams are next week, starting with the written exams. The combat exams will be on the following week. But remember what I've always said, written exams are just as important as combat exams."
Today was Monday. The professor purposely spoke in a grave tone. Just like he said, the midterm exams would begin in just a week.
I was also a bit apprehensive.
Of course, I had nothing to worry about in written exams, but the problem was with combat exams.
In duels, cadets fought each other in a one on one battle. In monster wars, cadets fought illusionary monsters summoned by magicians rather than mana puppets.
Cadets didn't show mercy in duels to maximize the points they gained, and summoned monsters in monster wars were on a completely different league than mana puppets. In a way, they were no different than 'real' monsters.
So I had to prepare myself for the pain of getting my flesh cut or my bones broken.
But setting the exam-worry aside, I couldn't focus on today's class because of someone sitting next to me.
She always sat by herself in the back of the class, but ever since the results came out for the Phenomenon Realm Analysis exam, she has been getting close to me seat by seat, and now she was sitting next to me.
To be exact, she was still a seat away since there was still an empty seat between us. In any case, Rachel kept sneaking a glance at my notebook. She wasn't just stealing a look, but she also seemed to be writing something down.
Just to be sure, I wrote down a random string of words.
[Yoo Kim Ok Jun Ja Hyuk]
Yoo Okja. Kim Junhyuk. It was my mother's and father's name. I rolled my eyes to the side and observed Rachel.
As expected, she snuck a glance before quickly jotting something down on her notebook. With my eyes, I could clearly see the words "Yoo Kim Ok Jun Ha Hyuk????"
Next, I scribbled down a string of numbers next to my parents' names.
It was my father's and mother's birthday. Rachel also jotted down the numbers.
Next, I scribbled down the name of the dog I used to have, then 'imputsmid' which was an anagram of "I'm stupid"…
The class then ended while I was still messing around with Rachel.
"Good luck on your exams next week. The results will be posted for everyone to see, so don't embarrass yourselves."
The professor left after reminding the cadets. Immediately afterwards, Chae Nayun's seat became noisy.
Chae Nayun had returned from the hospital today. It seemed she still had trouble moving, as she had all sorts of supporting equipment with her. Just like in the original story, Kim Suho and Shin Jonghak ran up to her.
"What's wrong with you guys. I can move just fine by myself."
They backed off slightly at Chae Nayun's complaint but still remained hovering around her.
"Kim Suho, you should leave."
"Can't you see Nayun is uncomfortable having you around?"
Shin Jonghak was provoking Kim Suho as usual, and one girl watched them from the side with somewhat lonely eyes. She smiled, acting as though she was fine, but I knew she was feeling alienated. Obviously, it was Yoo Yeonha.
Yoo Yeonha approached Chae Nayun and the others and spoke.
"Jonghak, Nayun, I'm going first."
"Hm? Oh, bye Yeonha. Good luck studying."
Shin Jonghak and Chae Nayun's greeting was just for courtesy. Yoo Yeonha left the classroom biting her lips. I stuffed my laptop and writing utensils in my bag and walked out the back door.
Immediately, I ran into Yoo Yeonha. She should have gone left to go to the dorm, but for some reason, she chose the opposite direction.
We looked at each other awkwardly.
"Where are you going?" I asked.
"…To the dorm."
Like I said before, this wasn't the way to the dorm.
But I didn't want to continue talking to her.
Yoo Yeonha didn't say anything more either.
She simply made a small bow and walked past me.
Yoo Yeonha opened the clubroom door. The clubroom looked no different than usual, but the empty room gave off a slight chill. The only person inside was Yun Hyun, who was reading on the teaching platform.
Yoo Yeonha tilted her head. Where was everyone else?
At that moment, Yun Hyun noticed Yoo Yeonha and walked over.
"Come take a seat."
Yoo Yeonha sat down for now. Not having anyone else around made her feel a bit uneasy, but she soon calmed down. It was likely thanks to Yun Hyun. For some reason, the scent Yun Hyun gave off was calming and cozy, so Yoo Yeonha could always relax in front of him.
"Where did everyone go?"
"They're coming soon. Oh right, Yeonha, I heard you joined the team."
"You know, the Djinn investigation team. I'm in it too as the second year representative."
Yun Hyun's voice was clear and firm. At least, that's how Yoo Yeonha felt.
As expected, Kim Hajin's suspicion was a complete nonsense.
"But we haven't made any progress. Do you guys have any lead? Any suspects?"
"No, not yet."
"Really? So you guys haven't made any progress either?"
Yun Hyun asked softly. Yoo Yeonha pondered for a moment at his courteous manner of speech. Progress. There wasn't any. The meeting was disbanded before anything happened.
"Mm… One person did say something, but it was stupid."
"Stupid? I'm curious what it was now."
Yun Hyun leaned against the desk Yoo Yeonha was sitting on and placed down a scented candle.
"A scented candle. It'll help when we're studying later. Anyways, what did this person say?"
Yun Hyun asked with a kind smile on his face. Yoo Yeonha smelled the scented candle. It was aromatic and gentle. Her body relaxed, and the day's exhaustion seemed to wear away.
"It's nothing, really."
Yoo Yeonha smirked.
"Some guy was saying you were a Djinn. That you could use some sort of mental magic. Absurd, isn't it?"
After answering, Yoo Yeonha sniffed the scented candle once more. The wonderful fragrance was almost addicting. Because she was focused on the scented candle, she didn't see Yun Hyun's face.
"…Does he have proof?"
At that moment, Yoo Yeonha suddenly snapped out of her daze. Tension welled up in her body once more. She turned her head towards Yun Hyun and glared at him.
When being suspected, most innocent people wouldn't ask if there was evidence. At least, not as the first question.
After all, there couldn't possibly be any evidence against someone who didn't commit a crime.
"Oh, oops, I misspoke. What a funny kid. On what ground is he calling me a Djinn?"
Yun Hyun realized his mistake and quickly corrected himself. But it was too late. Yoo Yeonha backed off, taking out her whip from her back pocket and pointing it at Yun Hyun.
"Who are you?"
"…What's wrong, Yeonha?"
Yun Hyun smiled.
The gentle arc his eyes and lips drew quickly twisted viciously.
"It's not your turn yet."