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The users grew somewhat accustomed to the training during the ninth, tenth, and eleventh weeks. When they began the first week, they had a hard time just running, but now they could easily run 20 laps with a smile upon their faces. Seeing that no one gave up and were all giving it their all made a smile appear on my face.
As of now, there were only 80 users left. However, to have 80 users graduate from the User Academy at the same time was rare. As the last weeks of training quickly approached, the atmosphere within the academy became weird.
For example, the instructors’ attitudes towards the new users changed. Not all of the instructors were from the Golden Lion Clan. A good 70% were indeed members of the clan that represented the country’s largest city, but the remaining 30% were part of clans that represented various other smaller and ordinary cities.
The instructors had yelled continuously at the users in the beginning, but now they became gentler. An instructor calling out one or two of the users to go out to eat became an ordinary happenstance. There were also times when users were offered the chance to go out and eat with an instructor right after training ended. Of course, only skillful users ever received these invitations.
The dorm instructors were changed, which really surprised me. A beautiful female instructor was in charge of the male dormitory, while a handsome male instructor was in charge of the female dormitory. Anyone with half a brain would be able to figure out the Academy’s purpose in doing so. As each training session was finished quicker now, we naturally had more time to meet with others. Whenever I met with An Hyun, An Sol, and Yoo-Jung, they always looked at me and questioned me about what I was going to do after graduation.
“What are YOU thinking about doing?”
“What do YOU think? I’m sure you’ve gotten plenty of offers. Are you planning on joining a clan?”
I appreciate that they wanted to follow me, but this… this was too much. It would have been a different story had they a plan of their own and only consulted me for my opinion, but them wanting to just depend on me almost makes me want to leave them as soon as possible. As I tried to subtly hint my thoughts, Yoo-Jung started to pout.
“Who ever said we weren’t thinking on our own? We just wanted to hear your plan first!”
“I’m still thinking. What will you do if we have different plans?”
“What do you mean? I’ll obviously follow you!”
“Of course, of course. I trust you. Cheer up!”
An Hyun, who was listening to our conversation, commented while nodding his head sagely. They always depend on me for advice… When I asked them why, An Sol replied with a smile: “If we listen to you, good things always happen.”
A bitter smile crept up on my face, and I shook my head. The devotion formed from both the experiences during the Rite of Passage and my forming a reputation at the User Academy caused my little group to heavily rely on me. Secretly, I was glad that they relied on me so much although I decided to not say it. I’m sure I’ll leak it out before we graduate anyways, but now was not yet the time.
We never saw Kim Han-Byul anymore. From what I’ve heard, she and Yoo-Jung make eye contact they just pass each other without saying a word. In addition, many of the female users assume that she’ll be a top ranker, making her a valuable target to be pulled in by many clans.
Users that are somewhat capable are probably starting to choose which clan they will decide to join, while others haven’t received a single offer. Those users that haven’t were probably getting worried as graduation was fast approaching and they didn’t have a plan for what was after.
Even though they might not be able to join a large clan, graduates can join one of many of the smaller clans from the smaller cities. Of course, if possible they would like to join a large clan. According to some rumors floating around, there are even female users that are doing some daring things in order to force this possibility into reality. They would get really friendly with the instructors, and even seduce them with their own bodies. I could tell that there was even competition among these girls.
Seeing that users started to take things easy as the days passed, I advised them to continue focusing on their training until graduation. There was a reason why users were to spend three months at the academy. Although it may differ from user to user, the 90th to the 100th days of training was when a user’s attributes would increase the most.
They complained at first, but immediately stopped after hearing that they wouldn’t be able to increase their attributes later on no matter how much they wanted too. To be a good example, I put in that much extra work into my training. In order to become a Sword Master, I haven’t skipped out on even one day of training.
Time passed just like that and graduation season was fast approaching.
It was the day before graduation. The throng of users were slowly preparing to leave the academy. The usually strict instructors didn’t say much today and let us freely choose how to spend our time. Users either chose to pack their personal belongings or to talk with others.
The day passed by so quickly that soon it was already night. As it was the last night, I decided to have dinner with my roommates. The instructor told us to not get too crazy before letting us go. The users from the other dorms also had similar plans.
It wasn’t anything fancy, really. We were just given dried meat and drinks. Many of the users that haven’t had a taste of alcohol for this whole time jumped at the sight and happily chugged it. An Hyun and I shared a gaze, lightly nodded our heads in sync and stood up from our seats. Yoo-Jung had suggested that we sneak out of our dorms and celebrate amongst ourselves.
Hyun and I managed to successfully walk out the door. Everyone present was pretty much drunk and shouting celebrations like “We made it!” while having their arms around each other. In that kind of atmosphere, sneaking out was a piece of cake.
I searched my pockets out of habit before realizing that I didn’t have any more cigarettes. I think I left it back at the dorm. I quickly told An Hyun to head over to the rendezvous first before turning and making my way back. An Hyun tried to persuade me to hold off smoking till another time, but being the heavy smoker that I was, I had developed a habit of smoking while drinking.
After sending An Hyun on first, I returned to our dorm, grabbed the cigarette, and walked out again. We had decided earlier to meet at a corner of the Academic Information Building. It was a pretty daring decision on our part to meet there, but it was highly possible that our little escapade would be overlooked even if we did get caught.
The sunset caused shadows to stretch all over the ground. I strolled across the large (and currently empty) training ground. Impatient, I started to walk faster towards the building. As I was about to pass the bathroom…
“Uhn… ah… ah… gahhn~…”
I heard an odd… moan escape out of the bathroom. It was like my sensitive hearing didn’t want me to miss it. Curiosity got the best of me, and I ended up opening the bathroom… doors… slowly… I tried to open it carefully, but a creaking sound filled the surroundings. Before I could worry about the sound, a strange smell wafted by my nose from inside the bathroom; my body immediately formed goosebumps.
“Ahhh… huh…MNNNH! … ha… ha… ha…”
Huh. The bathroom was a mess. As I slid my eyes around my room my eyes first caught the clothes that were strewn all over the floor, then a person wearing an instructor’s hat. Under his stomach was the source of the moaning. The girl’s black hair was spread across the floor, while her slim legs were spread apart and her hips were lifted in the air. I’ve… seen that face before…
At closer inspection, the user on top of her was definitely an instructor. The harder he pushed his hips into her, the more her body rocked back and forth while loud moans escaped her clenched lips.
“Be… quiet! Your… moans… are… too LOUD!”
“Ahnnn!~ It’s … because you’re… being… so ROUGH~… with… me… ah… ah… mnnn…!”
After their exchange of words ended, the instructor moved his hips more rhythmically. He decided to showcase his overflowing strength by grabbing the girl by the waist picking her whole body up — with him still snugly inside. The female user hugged him tightly.
It was obvious that the two were enjoying their moment. Then the entranced female started speaking and he stopped moving.
“You PROMISED~, right? You’ll… recruit me into your clan?”
“I told you, don’t worry about it. Wait for me after the exit ceremony. I’ll come and get you.”
After they finished talking, he started to move his hips again. Lewd moans floated about the bathroom once again. I understood the situation after hearing their conversation, so I closed the door. Although it didn’t seem like he forced her into it, this kind of situation was kinda unavoidable. Even if the Northern Country had stricter rules than others, nothing could be done if a female user wanted to use her body.
I thought that I should hurry and meet the others, so I turned around and-
I reflexively gasped. I wasn’t sure when she had appeared, but Han-Byul was staring at me from behind. I was surprised that I hadn’t detected her presence earlier, even if I wasn’t really on guard. I think… that I was too focusing on the couple’s lovemaking since I hadn’t seen such things in a while. I calmed myself down before speaking.
“You surprised me. How long have you been standing there?”
“I went to your dorm because there was something I had to talk to you about, but you weren’t there. On my walk back, I saw you walking in and coming back out of the dorm so I decided to follow you.”
“Th-then, inside the bathroom…?”
Did you see it? was the silent question that I wanted to ask, although I think that she understood. As her face immediately flushed red and she avoided eye contact, she may have seen it from the very beginning.I felt like I was caught, but I confidently walked away as I did nothing wrong. It was necessary for use to leave this place so that them two could enjoy their time together.
I walked slowly in order to be quieter. I headed in the direction of the Academic Information Building. Han-Byul jogged towards me, then timed her steps to match with mine after she had caught up with me. We walked together side by side, under the glow of the moonlight. Maybe it was a result of the awkward situation we had glimpsed just now, but between us was only silence. Eventually, it was broken by Han-Byul.
“The female user that was in there… was probably Lee Ji-Young.”
“Lee Ji-Young…? I think I’ve seen her a couple of times before.”
“You don’t know of her?”
Hearing her answer made me confused, and it was plastered on my face. Of course I didn’t know who Lee Ji-Young was. She wasn’t exactly a skilled user nor was she something that was often friendly with me, so how would I have got to known her? Honestly, she was pretty, but when compared to Yoo-Jung, Sol, or Han-Byul, she could only be called average looking. I switched to a stern expression before answering.
“Of course I don’t. How could I have? I’ve never even talked to her.”
After hearing my answer, Han-Byul was visibly relieved. I became curious about this Lee Ji Young. What is it about her would cause Han-Byul to be relieved after I said that I’ve no relation with the girl? Before I could further muse on it, Han-Byul spoke.
“It’s better if you don’t know. Her reputation among us isn’t that great either. As you witnessed just now… those rumors that are spreading were true. Well, I never thought that I would see it happening in person. Anyways, why were you there?”
“We decided to celebrate our graduation by eating together. On the way to the rendezvous, I heard weird noises coming from the bathroom and decided to investigate. Turned out that they were doing… what they were doing. Anyways, since you’re here now, wanna come with me?”
You’ll go too, right? was the question that I wanted to ask, but seeing as how her relations with the others wasn’t all that great, I decided not to. She tilted her head down and stared at the floor for a moment. I thought that her ears poking through her long black hair was so adorable. While contemplating that important matter, I saw her mouth open.
“I…wanted to talk to you for a moment.”
Did she just say that she wanted to talk to me? There wasn’t a reason for me to avoid her, so I nodded my head. Now that I think about it, it’s been awhile since the two of us have talked alone.
“I got an offer from the Golden Lion Clan.”
“They rarely accept new users, but they said they were increasing the number of recruits this time around. They also said that they’ll provide a lot of help to Spell Casters so they can grow faster. Also…they said that if I joined their clan, I’ll be a recommended candidate for a clan manager position.”
After her words was just silence. I had known that they would try to recruit her from the very beginning, but her words after surprised me. I didn’t really understand what she had meant by “they would help the Spell Casters grow.” Nevermind that, I wanted to check my hearing when she mentioned the recommendation. Even if Kim Han Byul had outstanding stats, a recommendation to a manager position for a new user was extremely rare.
If she had a secret class or even a rare class, it would be understandable, but— as I was thinking, I had a realization and stopped walking. Han-Byul looked at me with a questioning expression. I activated the Third Eye.
* Name: Kim Han-Byul (0 Years)
* Class: Jewel Mage Beginner
* Nation: Unsettled
* Clan: Unsettled
* Alias/Nationality: Nova, One who Radiates Beauty / Korean1
* Sex: Female (22)
* Height/Weight: 170.5cm / 45.0kg
* Character: Lawful, Chaos
* Power 44 / Endurance 52 / Agility 64 / Stamina 48 / Mana 82 / Luck 62
I was in a dazed state, and nodded my head instinctively to Han-Byul’s call. Why? and How? were both questions that filled my head; I felt that I needed to clear my confusion.
“You said to not tell other people about our information. They said that they’ll provide a lot of help to Spell Casters so that they can grow.”
A Jewel Mage will require a clan’s assistance in the beginning to grow. Since they use jewels, raising a Jewel Mage was costly. However, that wasn’t important right now. Kim Han-Byul never mentioned to me that she acquired the Jewel Mage class. The fact that she was going to be recommended for the manager position meant that she probably already revealed her class to THAT guy.
That moment, I felt a sense of betrayal flood through my body… but I calmed myself down. I told myself earlier that I would treat her like fate and would let her go if the time came, but seeing that I felt that way for even just that one moment meant that, somewhere within me, was the feeling of regret.
Jewel Mage is one of the secret classes. Truth be told, if she had told me from the beginning I probably would’ve treated her differently. However, I don’t plan on thinking on it purely from my objective point of view. That was something that I despised the most.
I decided to calm myself, think rationally, and organize my thoughts. From now on, Kim Han-Byul will be just another user instead of a younger sister I got to know.
“I heard that you got an offer from the Golden Lion Clan as well.”
Seeing as Kim Han-Byul spoke the words with a calm expression, I decided to answer with a stern mask.
“I told them I would think about it.”
“Have you decided now?”
“Yeah. I’m going to decline. I don’t plan on joining a clan.”
After hearing that I planned on declining their offer, I could feel that she was physically startled.
I stopped talking and started walking again. She, too, started walking again and continued to follow me. I turned around and looked into her eyes as she looked into mine. In that moment, we shared a complex, frustrating feeling that couldn’t be expressed with words alone through our shared gaze.
1. The literal translation of her titles were “One that begins from the star” and “One that handles the beautiful light and shine.” ↩
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