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“The humans that live in Hall Plain are separated into two major categories. There are the original residents of Hall Plain, and then there are the users that entered Hall Plain through the Angels’ intervention. However, it’s a big misconception if you think that all users are of the same thought.”
“They’re… not the same?”
Hyun-Woo nodded at Han-Byul’s inquiry.
“There are users that are working hard to go back to Earth, and there are those that have settled down in Hall Plain. To be more exact, they’re converting themselves into true residents of Hall Plain. Hm…convert does sound a bit odd. To put it simply, you can think of them as people that refuse to return to Earth.”
He kept on swallowing, which made me think he was thirsty. I wondered what he would say next, and my expectations kept increasing.
“I’m sure your wish to return to Earth is the same as that of the members of the Golden Lion Clan. We’re working hard even as we speak to try and find clues on how we may return. However, the users that have settled in Hall Plain are different- they would like to live in Hall Plain forever.”
“Can’t we just leave them behind and group up with those that want to return to Earth?”
It was a reasonable expectation, but the reality was harsh. Hyun-Woo shook his head at Han-Byul’s inquiry.
“To be honest, we can’t just separate the users. Hall Plain is not a playground. This is a reality, and Hall Plain is an actual world. As a result, complex situations are appearing and more issues are arising. There are people doing everything within their power to try and stop us from returning to Earth.”
Was he talking about the Vagrants? There was one clan known as the Murder Brigade. While not an official clan, they were one of the well-known clans that Hyun-Woo mentioned. Although they only had 10-some members, they were a psycho clan that felt pleasure from killing people. From what I remember, they were first created right after the recent Alliance War.
The Murder Brigade’s dying moment was especially intense. When the Northern Country climbed over mountains and invaded Atlanta (though invaded might not be the proper word), the Murder Brigade was prancing about- going at their usual business- when they accidentally provoked a user from the Red Fang Clan(who owned the largest city in the region). Under the angry retaliation from Clan Leaders Woo Jung-Min and Seon Yoo-Woon, each and every one of them were suppressed.
“To these people, if it meant achieving their goal, they won’t hesitate to even kill their own members. I just wanted to warn you all that apart from those that wish to peacefully live in Hall Plain, there are dangerous people too.”
The atmosphere suddenly got heavy. From the new users’ point of view, they probably previously believed that all humans were on the same side. The thought that users could be enemies with each other never even crossed their minds. Of course, there were also users who had on an apathetic expression- users like Park Dong-Gul. They’ve either already committed murder before arriving at Hall Plain, or they’ve had to commit murder during the Rite of Passage for unknown reasons…
“These users work in the shadows in order to not get caught. Their strength is something that cannot be ignored. Given a chance, they will immediately jump out of the shadows at a moment’s notice. Young lady, you asked for the Academy’s true motive? This is our answer.”
He quietly stared at Han Byul for a moment before continuing.
“The new users that just recently passed the Rite of Passage will probably be their primary targets. They’ll try to be friends with you and fulfill your desires. At the User Academy, we’ll teach the new users on how to protect yourselves and others, and we’ll teach you about those with evil intentions. The Academy is an institute that serves as a foundation where we provide training so that we can band together and oppose those with ill intentions. For that reason, we agree with the Angels and recommend entering the Academy first. You, new users, have nothing to lose from this.”
In the end, Hyun-Woo’s wanted us to team up. We the veteran users will protect you the new users from danger and help you all adapt to Hall Plain. With our help, you new users will be able to grow, and eventually become skilled enough to protect yourselves. A user that experiences such growth will become valuable to both the city and the country.
Han-Byul sat down after hearing the satisfactory answer. Seeing as the rest of the new users also seemed to agree, they probably sympathized with Hyun-Woo. Except for one person. Except… me. Of course, all that he said was true, and there was nothing wrong with his explanation. Since I wanted to enter the Academy from the beginning, I didn’t have any issues. However, he had failed to tell the entire truth.
If we considered the source of the first Alliance War, then his diatribe was irrelevant because he left out all the important parts. The Golden Lion Clan had contributed greatly to the cause of the war. To think that he could still talk like that… made me feel really uncomfortable.
He was working hard to put the Vagrants in a bad light. The Vagrants weren’t called vagrants for no reason. There were those that were too extreme and had wanted posters in each city. They weren’t welcomed in any city- at least, not in the Northern Country.
I wanted to ask Hyun-Woo a question: Ultimately, aren’t you guys are the same as the Vagrants? Of course, I wasn’t on the same side as the vagrants. I didn’t think the two groups were any different because they both wanted to protect the power they currently had while stripping away the power of others.
There was a time when the Golden Lion Clan took over Atlanta after overcoming a close call with death in the Hall Plain. However, other clans were lying in wait, waiting for a chance to appear. When it did, the other clans teamed up and, with the support of other countries, managed to take Atlanta for themselves.
There’s a famous saying in Hall Plain: Users that understand will gather and form a clan; clans that share a common enemy will gather and form an alliance. It means that in the end, whether they’re Vagrants or Clansmen, each will fight when necessary. Hearing him cover that fact up made me angry. Even though it wasn’t something new users had to know, to me the words he spouted was pure nonsense.
After calming my anger, I saw Han-Byul sit back down. It seemed like she had somewhat agreed to his words. There wasn’t anything that could be done. If you’ve not experienced how Hall Plain will progress in the future, all of Hyun-Woo’s words appeared to be valid. He turned his head to the center of the stage and let out a sigh of relief, probably at the close call with the unexpected question.
“I didn’t think that it would take this long to answer a couple of questions. I see that some of you look pretty tired…I think it’s for the best to end it here. I recommend resting for the rest of today. Training begins tomorrow. The guides will take you to your dorms.”
He once again turned to Yoo-Bin and commanded, “Stop the Voice Amplification magic.” Afterward, he turned to the users beside him and issued a few commands. The users then walked towards us as Hyun-Woo stepped down from the stage.
As he stepped down the last step, he looked around at a group of users by the stairs. It was only for a moment, but I saw Hyun-Woo look at Han-Byul. His eyes showed a hint of deep interest in her. I quickly glanced over at Han-Byul and saw them exchange eye contact. At that moment… I felt really uncomfortable.
Although many users wished to join a large clan, most merged with a small clan as large ones only sought those with potential. Joining the clan that represented a large city was a privilege; one that was tempting and hard to refuse.
I believed that Hyun-Woo was interested in Han-Byul because he saw potential in her. And I- I was not quite sure why- but I had a strong feeling that Han-Byul might accept the Golden Lion Clan’s offer.
By the time we arrived at the academy the sky was already dark. The dorms were divided according to class and could satisfactorily fit up to 8 people. An Hyun noticed this and quickly moved to stand beside me. We ended up in the same dorm room.
The beds had just a mattress and two blankets each. One could say that the dorm was in poor condition and quite shabby. Those seeing it for the first time complained, but the users that were used to it didn’t say anything and directly went to sleep. The User Academy’s system was like that of the military.
With a fishy smile, the training instructor told us we were somewhat free for today. (As soon as I heard his words, I requested for a cigarette. He gave me one without a word). The others, however, immediately went to sleep despite his words.
An Hyun laid down beside me and fell fast asleep, but it made me uncomfortable. I observed his face. He was probably dreaming, as he was smacking his lips. Was he dreaming about eating something? I smirked and thought about how carefree he was.
The User Academy in the Northern Country is widely known to be the country with the most brutal training. It employs unimaginable numbers of training methods. It made worried about the other users because the 13 weeks of training gets harder as it goes.
I was getting frustrated. I let out another deep sigh. I was wondering what the source of my discomfort was as a thought popped into my head. The scene of Hyun-Woo and Han-Byul looking at each other began to play over and over again in my head.
I tried to push the thought away and go to sleep, but the more I tried to push it away, the more complicated my thoughts became. After tossing and turning for a while, I sat up. I put on the slippers placed on the floor and opened the door to the dorm. The cold air drafting through the dark hallway cooled my body down. I enjoyed the cold air at the moment before taking out taking out that cigarette from my pocket and placed it between my lips.
I looked around to make sure no one was around me. I sent a small amount of my mana to my hand. Fwoosh. Along with the sound, flames birthed and lit the end of the cigarette then quickly disappeared. I took a deep breath.
The male and female dorms were in two different buildings. Surprisingly, Han Byul was categorized into the Spell Caster group. Since her mana level was pretty high, I could understand it. My previous clan, the Road Clan, was of the combat group. Truth be told, I was feeling a bit disappointed.
I first joined An Hyun’s group because we had the same goal and they would be useful in the future. Even now, my goal hasn’t changed. My thoughts, however, had. I acknowledge the fact that Han-Byul was special in comparison to others, but I didn’t think I would be swayed this much by the possibility of losing her.
Was I starting to like her? Or was it… love? I shook my head at the nonsensical thought. The ash broke off slowly dropped through the air at the motion.
I’m the one that knows myself the best. Moreso, I knew myself very well. With my personality, it was impossible that I would fall in love with someone after merely one week. In that moment, I realized the truth. Why was I disappointed that she was a Spell Caster?
From the moment I met her through all of the Rite of Passage, she had reminded me of a woman. That woman was one of the users that I used to follow. I thought… that I saw Han So-Young within Kim Han-Byul. I thought… as a feeling of bitterness started to fill me. I felt pathetic to be contemplating such an irrelevant matter…
I dropped the cigarette on the floor, stepped on it, then continued walking. There were a lot of things I had to do, and a lot of things I had to think about. I had to remind myself to stop thinking irrelevant thoughts and focus.
I still couldn’t fall asleep, but I made up my mind to forcefully fall asleep. I even thought about making myself faint as I quietly opened the door and walked back into the room.
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