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It’s a mature voice mixed with some cuteness.
When I open my eyes, mom and noona have come home. It seems noona had picked up mom on her way home.
“Mom, you’re home?”
“Yup. I heard my son came home so I closed the store early.”
I look at my watch and it’s midnight. The fried chicken business that mom runs doesn’t sell alcohol like a bar, so there’s no reason for it to be open so late.
I blatantly stare at my sister.
Kim Hyun-ju. Age 33. Occupation: Dispute* specialist lawyer currently working at a large law firm.
(TN: It could mean divorce but I’m not sure.)
Her slender face with her glasses resting on her cheek is on the pretty side, but her cold eyes and lack of expression make her scary.
Anyhow, noona is holding on to a bottle of wine.
“What’s with the wine?”
“In commemoration of you no longer wasting your life.”
That…that…cruel woman. This is why she has no man.
“Go get the beer from the veranda.”
Inside the kimchi fridge, in the veranda, there are stacks of beer.
Noona likes the drink.
Wine and beer and the left over fried chicken that mom brought created a giant alcoholic spread.
Hyun-ji, who had been studying in her room, even slithered out and sat with us. Because when it comes to alcohol, this kid’s eyes come around too.* In her drunken state, mom taps me on my back and encourages me.
(TN: Meaning Hyun-ji goes crazy for alcohol as well.)
“Son! Son’s brain was just never meant for studying.”
It’s not encouraging at all.
“It’s an entrance exam and Hyun-ju did it in a year, but what about my son? It’s not like it was a law entrance exam, it was only a civil exam.”
“I’m sorry for wasting my life and money.”
“More importantly, get married. You and Hyun-ju both. What I’m saying is, someone give me a grandchild!”
At the mention of marriage, the rate of noona’s drinking quickly increased. Three or four cans in, she starts asking if there are any decent guys around.
In addition, Hyun-ji, who has also been slamming down beer, starts whining, asking if she can just play around and not get a job. She’s saying she’ll get a job after play for a couple years.
She would think up crap like this…
At a glance, it seems like I’ll be in charge of cleaning up, but all I can do is smile. Why did I not know? That just being with family could bring so much happiness.
I feel like perhaps the biggest prize to passing the first exam is this moment right now.
The next morning.
The inside of the house was chaos. Empty beer cans and fried chicken bones were everywhere and my family members were struggling and in a daze.
High tolerance Hyun-ji sobered up first and goes to shake noona.
“Unni, you have to go to work! Wake up!”
“Ughhhh I don’t want to go to work today.”
In an expression of annoyance, she turned her back on her.
“But then you’ll get fired!”
“Then let them fire me.”
“No! If you have no man and you have no job, you’re a total loser!”
At Hyun-ji’s stabbing remark, noona shows a reaction.
After getting up with some difficulty, Hyun-ji drags noona to the bathroom. It’s a tear wrenching scene.
I have just awoken and I grab my head that feels like it’s about to split and let out a sigh.
‘Man. I just ended up sleeping that first night.’
Ah damn. The spirit summoning and shooting practice was the most important thing and I just forgot about it. Alcohol is indeed the enemy.
Noona dragged her tired body to work and Hyun-ji said she has a morning lecture and went off to class. And when the time comes, mom too will wake up and go to work.
I decide that I have to do the shooting and spirit practice today. Not right now, but later in the morning.
First of all, like I did yesterday, I have to hike and do pushups.
And then, all of a sudden, perhaps because I went too far, my whole body was aching. With the hangover, I wasn’t in the best condition, but I washed up quickly and headed out.
Like a dog on blessings day, I went up the mountain panting the whole way.*
(TN: St. Francis of Assai is the patron saint of animals and ecology. October 4th is the day where there is a feast to bless your pets. It seems many churches will give a verbal blessing and use holy water on the pets to bless them.)
And with trembling arms, I barely succeeded in 50 pushups. Oh I am so lame. At least when I was in the army, my physical condition was decent.
I come home and wash up, eat lunch, and it’s already 2 pm. I fill the tub with hot water and take a bath. On somewhat relaxed limbs, I put on a muscle pain relief salve.* I laid out my blankets in preparation for a nap. A nap when 1 minute, 1 second is so precious?
(TN: Something similar to tiger balm.)
It’s because the spirit summoning and shooting practice have to be done at dawn, when there are no people.
In order to best use my time efficiently, I change the schedule and decided to sleep in the afternoon.
After a brief sleep, it’s already 8 pm.
“Hee hee. Unemployed oppa, you up?”
Hyun-ji, who had returned from school, was teasing my disheveled waking face.
Now that I think of it, in her eyes, I must have seemed like nothing more than an unemployed oppa and therefore took a nap.
“It’s because I worked out so hard earlier.”
“A hike. I’m going to do it every day.”
“Bleckk. An early morning hike? Oppa’s is totally acting like an unemployed person.”
“My dear younger sister, how is it that every time I talk to you it makes me angry. You want to get hit by oppa?”
“Hahahaha. Anyway. Why are you exercising all of a sudden? You’re already so skinny it can’t be for a diet.”
“To survive in the intense fried chicken work, I have to work on my fitness first.”
At my words, Hyun-ji bursts out in laughter.
We make a simple dinner out of the seaweed soup and side dishes from yesterday. We clear the table, do the dishes, and get the cleaning done. And even then, there are many hours left until midnight, so I take out the laptop.
What I search for on the web is survival skills for how to survive in a forest or mountain wilderness. I research gun shooting positions and shootout strategies. I took notes on any useful information and studied.
‘You idiot, you should’ve studied this hard to begin with.’
What the baby angel with the dangling bbundegi said was right. If I had studied like life or death as on the line before, I would have passed the civil exam. A life where every time I look at my life I’m full of regret is just proof that I was living wrong.
Well. I’ve already done a lot of regretting. Let’s stop now.
And so the time passed until midnight.
‘There’s probably no one on the mountain on this hour?’
I changed my clothes and head out.
The training location will be where I do my every day hikes, Taejo Mountain. There will be no people at night and I took notice of a field during the day.
It’s a little embarrassing to say as an adult nearing 30, but it’s very unsettling to be walking on the street at night all alone.
There are people that set up tents and camp at the Mount Taejo Park, but the mountain pass I’m headed to is devoid of people.
‘Ahh. I’m afraid a ghost might pop out.’
You’re probably wondering, a 30 year old man and a ghost? I didn’t used to believe in these things either, but after dying once, my thoughts have changed. Baby angels exist, so why not a ghost.
‘Ah. What about Sylph?’
I immediately call for Sylph.
The summoned Sylph rubs herself against my face is being cute. Looking at cute Sylph dissipates all my fears.
Hold on. Wasn’t Sylph’s summon time only 2 hours?
-Spirit summon (Main skill). Lower level wind spirit is currently summoned.
*Level 1: Summons period 2 hours (Remaining time: 1 hour 59 minutes.)
When the summon time is up, you may re-summon in 10 hours.
So 2 hours was correct. If I used Sylph’s powers, the time limit will decrease faster.
‘Because of the time limit, I guess I won’t be able to do a lot of spirit summon training.’
It seems I will have to spare the summoning time as much as I can.
I speak to Sylph as I pet her.
“Sylph, I’ll call you in a little while. So go away for now?”
Sylph let out a soft reply and, as if a mirage, disappears.
I was once again left all alone on the mountain road in the dead of night.
Damn it. What’s there to be scared about? I am guy that, in 10 days, will have to fight to the death.
With that thought in mind, without any more trepidation, I marched on.
It’s because there is no probably as serious as an exam with my life on the line. After 10 more minutes of hiking, I find the field I had taken note of earlier.
It was field wrapped in tightly packed trees that almost made a canopy.
‘Let’s do this.’
First is shooting practice.
In my right hand was the magic gun and around my waist was the bandolier. The amount of bullets in the belt numbered exactly 100.
The shooting practice should be…
My eyes widened at the sudden truth.
‘This is crazy. Plenty my ass. This isn’t enough.’
The lead bullets are an expendable item. If I use them during training, replenishing them is impossible.
And then I think, well maybe after shooting practice, I can pick them up and use them again. I can just have Sylph pick up all the shot bullets. But then I think the material of the bullet is lead. When it reaches its target, it’ll receive a strong force and the shape will crumble!
The board appeared in midair.
“How many bullets are there?”
Lead bullets 100: bullets made with a lead material to be used with a gun (-2)
-Remaining karma: 0
Luckily, it is possible to get 100 bullets at the price of 2 karma. Unfortunately, the karma I have left is 0.
It is the result of carefully not leaving any of my exam winning karma.
… Careful my ass. I hadn’t thought about getting more bullets.
“You idiot. Now what are you going to do!”
I collapse into a sitting position onto the floor.
And so shooting practice because a stretch.
And there was no benefit for me having come out in the dead of night for training.
‘The 100 bullets I do have need to be used at the 2nd exam.
I do not know how the 2nd exam will be. If it’s something like one of the red ape from the first exam, it’ll be fine. But it could be crawling with 10 of them. I have to spare as many of my expendable bullets as I can.
Didn’t they say that in the Vietnam War that every soldier, to kill one person, used 50,000 bullets?
‘No. My gun is not an automatic anyway so it can’t just expend them like that.’
Thus, unlike an automatic gun that just sprays, I have to carefully aim and shoot every single time.
‘But if that’s the case, I have to increase my marksmanship through training!’
I have to somehow do my shooting training. I can’t step into the exam without ever having shot it. I take my smart phone out of my pocket. I open the internet browser and search for bullets. I’m trying to find marble shaped bullets that are the same as my lead ones.
Out of joy, I shouted without even realizing. On the internet shopping mall, they are selling sling bullets that you use for slingshots made of steel. Round marbles, their sizes come in 7mm, 8mm, 9mm and many more.
Using an app on my phone, I measure the size of my lead bullets. The size of the lead bullets for the magic gun is exactly 10 mm and the shopping mall is currently selling 10 mm slingshot bullets. I immediately order 500.
I desperately wish they will get here soon.
I only have 10 days.
I am somewhat relieved to have solved the shooting problem bullets problem.
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