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“We’re working hard in the shadows. Even though we’re enemies, it’s still nice to meet you.”
“Yeah. I’ve heard a lot about you. The Conductor of the Battlefield, Han So-Young. And you’re the sword master under her command? Your name is Jin Soo-Hyu, right?”
“Oh. Sorry. It’s Kim Soo-Hyun, not Jin Soo-Hyun.”
“Y’know, if you had met her first, you might’ve decided to work under her. She’s that charming of a user.”
“Your joke is lame. Where I’m at right now isn’t so bad. Also, I don’t like to betray people.”
Thankfully, they still gave discounts for using the warp gate. Normally, we would have to pay eight gold coins, but thanks to the 50% discount we only had to pay four gold coins.
The guys had a surprised look on their faces as they stepped through the calm ripples of the portal. One would think that they would be used to it, as they’ve experienced it before during the Rite of Passage. Them looking around was pretty much saying, “hey, I’m a novice user.”
I wanted to tell them that their smallest actions could make them become the Vagrants’ target, and that they should be careful. However, I didn’t want them to think that I nagged too much, so I ended up closing my mouth.
Entering the portal completely made my body feel like it was deep in the ocean, a cool feeling. I quietly closed my eyes. After this feeling completely filled my entire body with it’s refreshing energy, I opened my eyes again and the landscape of a shabby city appeared before me.
We had arrived at Mule.
To say that Mule was a prospering city would be a false statement. My members’ reactions were a sight to behold. Mule had straight roads and clean buildings. They seemed shocked to see a city like this after spending a long time in a large city like Babara, where it was always bright and bustling.
It’s safe to say that it’s hard for an undeveloped city to catch up to a large city like Babara, unless the city’s representing clan had amazing skills. I led the others along the uneven dirt road.
The roads of Mule were pretty quiet. The few users I spotted mostly had on shabby gear. As it was almost lunchtime, most were making their way out of the city. Unlike a large city, there wasn’t people every couple of steps— not that I was expecting to in the first place.
Yoo-Jung looked around and asked me a question as she was not used to this.
“Soo-Hyun, what are going to do now? Are we going to leave the city right away?”
That would be dangerous. We need to first arrange somewhere that we can return to. I shook my head.
“No. We need to find an inn that we can use as our temporary base.”
“A base? Inn?”
“We won’t be able to get neither a house nor a clan hall if we don’t first register as an official clan. We’ll spend our time at an inn for the time being.”
I planned on stopping by an inn as we can eat breakfast and lunch there. I’m not too sure what the others thought, but I thought that this wasn’t that bad of a plan. Users that weren’t recruited to a clan or abandoned the User Academy halfway typically had a hard time even surviving day-to-day.
The first place people looking for information within a city visit was the pub, but I chose an inn for a different reason. During the first war, there was a time when I briefly stayed in Mule and carelessly spent a few days at an inn.
The time I spent at the Inn passed uneventfully, but later on I was able to confirm an incidental fact about the inn.
I traced my memory as I walked along the main road, and ended up in front of a shabby inn. The others that walked behind me stopped as well. The sign of the inn was lit, and the name “A Modest Lady” could clearly be seen. Thinking that I’ve found the place, I was about to walk in with a small smile on my face.
“Ahhhh! Someone save me!”
The loud noise came from inside and a dark bearded male user ran out of the inn. With a scared expression, he tripped while running out and ended up rolling in front of us.
But then he skillfully jumped to his feet and ran away without a backward glance. I smiled, as I was pretty sure I knew what was going on, but the others had on dumbfounded looks as they watched the guy run away.
“Don’t just stand there, come in!”
A thin, husky voice that belonged to a female came out of the inn. I noticed the mess as I dragged the others inside. There were tableware and tablecloths strewn all over the place. An Hyun let out a moan when he saw the broken chairs and flipped tables.
A lady stood in the center of the hall while carrying an arrogant expression. That expression manifested as a lazy smile; it was as if she was extremely satisfied. The one thing I would point out that would make her stand out was her light gray hair.
She glanced first at me and then looked at the others before talking.
“New faces. Are you guys guests?”
From her lovely lips, a soft voice escaped that could melt any guy’s resistance. Unknowingly, An Hyun’s face was getting red. I sighed. There he goes again. Since I was immune to this kind of seduction, I was able to answer calmly.
“Yes, we’re guests.”
“To eat? To sleep?”
“Both, but we would like to eat first.”
She lightly smiled after hearing my answer.
“I like guys that are polite. Good. Babies. Hm, it would be difficult as this place is a mess right now, so go wait over there.”
I walked to the place she pointed and quietly sat down. The rest probably hadn’t had the chance to look around since they were taken aback, but they were able to do so after they calmed down.
A Modest Lady was an inn that I hadn’t seen in awhile. The inn had a total of three floors. The first floor served as the front lobby and the cafeteria, while the second and third floors were used for lodging. The important thing was that other than us there weren’t any users inside the inn.
Soon, the woman walked towards us with a bright smile on her face. The tables and chairs were still in the position they were before. She lightly tossed us tankards, a cup, and the menu, but surprisingly after spinning once they all ended up in the middle of the table. The others saw this and their eyes visibly opened wide.
“You can order things that aren’t on the menu. I can make pretty much anything. What would you like to eat?”
The others all looked at me. Briefly looking at the menu, I answered. I only acted like I skimmed through it, but I already knew what was good here.
“Four servings of the A course meal.”
“Wow. Good-looking guys have good taste. It’ll take a moment to prepare the A course meal, so sit tight.”
Showing off her nice body, she walked into the kitchen. An Sol looked at me with a dissatisfied expression and Yoo-Jung’s expression was weird as well. An Hyun was the only one that looked at me with an envious expression.
“Soo Hyun. This place seems weird. Why did you come here?”
“Yeah. It’s weird. Can’t we go somewhere else?”
As soon as Yoo-Jung expressed her dissatisfaction, Sol immediately jumped on the bandwagon. I was confused. I didn’t think that they had much of an issue with this place; was it that weird? Hyun spoke after hearing the two’s opinion.
“No way! It seems fine to me. It’s not that weird. Is there really a need to go somewhere else?”
As soon as Hyun stopped talking, the two females stared at An Hyun. Yoo-Jung looked at him with disgust while Sol looked at her brother with a disappointed expression. Scared by the way they looked at him, he coughed and quickly changed the subject.
“I-I’m really hungry. Let’s talk after we eat.”
“Yeah right. Is it love at first sight?”
Hyun didn’t answer. He just looked in the other direction. Breaking eye contact with her, Yoo-Jung turned her attention to me. Her voice became sharp. Sol seemed like something’s been bothering her ever since we were at the Babara Plaza. The way she complained was not like her.
“Hmph. I don’t like the way she called us babies. We’re not babies.”
As soon as An Sol finished talking, Yoo-Jung quietly looked at Sol with a surprised expression. I’ve thought of Sol that way all this time, so I couldn’t say anything. Yoo-Jung briefly scratched her head and expressed her dissatisfaction. Hm. Why are they acting like this?
“You should’ve just chosen a better inn. It’s weird just from the looks of it. The inside is a mess. And that guy ran as if his life depended on it.”
Your personality is weirder. I wanted to tell her that, but I managed to stop myself and instead answered with a fake smile. It seemed like they weren’t satisfied with my reaction as Yoo-Jung and Sol kept complaining and gossiping about Hyun and me.
Yoo-Jung let out a weird scream. A woman was standing behind Yoo-Jung with a plate in her hand. An Hyun and An Sol looked like they were about to faint when they saw the woman. Despite the fact she was close, we couldn’t feel her presence.
With the same lazy eyes and bored voice as before, she started talking.
“Wow…this is the first time I’ve heard a unique scream like that.”
Yoo-Jung was about to let her anger loose at the woman’s calm expression. But then, her eyes widened and she stopped talking as the woman lowered her head and hugged Yoo-Jung’s shoulder. From there, she pulled Yoo-Jung close to her chest. Soon, Yoo-Jung’s entire was buried in that woman’s chest.
While Yoo-Jung had a hard time talking, a bright light started to emanate from the woman’s body. That energy overtook our surrounding and soon, the air became heavy. An Hyun, An Sol, and Yoo-Jung’s face became serious as if their body hardened in response.
The woman started whispering into Yoo-Jung’s ears with her face still buried in her chest.
“Are you curious as to why that man suddenly ran away…?”
Yoo-Jung didn’t answer. No. The better answer was that she couldn’t answer.
I analyzed the situation instead of acting. The energy she was emanating was part of a spell called Mana Discharge, which was a basic spell for talented users. I admired her mana and the way she surrounded herself with that energy. I had wanted to fix Yoo-Jung’s bad habit, and this opportunity seemed to just fall into my lap.
“That man came in and told me to take his order…but do you know what he ordered?”
An uneasy atmosphere was enveloping the table. It made it almost hard to breathe. I don’t know about An Hyun and Yoo-Jung, but Sol should be able to resist it. Sol had a shocked look on her face. I knew they needed experience, however, and ignored the temptation to help them.
While thinking about various things, the woman kept on talking to Yoo-Jung.
“He said he wanted to suck on my breast.”
She laughed after saying that little tidbit, then turned her attention to Hyun and me and gave us a provocative smile. I wanted to her to continue I couldn’t ignore the Yoo-Jung that was asking for help.
I slowly moved my right hand as I grabbed the cup that was on the table. An amused expression could be seen on her face as I took a sip and placed the cup down. A bit of mana gathered.
The sound of the cup hitting the wooden table was atypically loud. At that moment, with my cup as the center, my mana spread throughout the area and neutralized her mana. Normally, I would shock the other user in retaliation, but I wasn’t trying to be aggressive this time.
Moments later, the heavy energy that filled the room disappeared. An Hyun and An Sol leaned back into their chairs and looked at both me and the woman with surprised looks.’
Yoo-Jung was probably the most affected since she was the nearest to her. She was apparently breaking down as she turned her attention to the floor. Yoo-Jung instinctively felt it; she felt the vast difference in power between her and the woman.
Not knowing something like this would happen, the woman stood up and exclaimed. At first she was surprised, but then her expression changed to curiosity as I started talking.
“That man had every reason to be kicked out.”
Hearing my deep voice, the woman looked at me interestingly. Then, she nodded her head and answered.
“…Right? But he is a customer. Business isn’t doing so well…so, that’s why I told him to pay 100 gold.”
I had 1,000 gold.
“That man didn’t seem like he had a lot of money.”
“Yeah. Like you said, he didn’t have any money. Instead, he said he would give me something better.”
Hearing my question, a wider smile appeared on her face.
“Yeah. He said he would give me a bunch of syringes.”
“Doe syringes exist in Hall Plain?”
An Hyun calmed down, and he felt fit enough to interrupt our conversation. Unlike his usual joking self, he spoke in a serious tone. The thought that men were sad animals briefly flashed through my head, as An Hyun obviously wanted to talk to her.
The woman thought that An Hyun’s act was cute, and answered with a seductive smile.
“Of course. I’m sure every man has at least one syringe that contains nutritional supplements.”
As he didn’t get what she meant, the woman pointed at Hyun’s pants with her slim finger.
“You have one too. A syringe filled with white nutritional supplements.”
“White nutritional supplements? Oh…?”
“Yeah. He said he would personally inject it into my crotch.”
An Hyun managed to figure out what she meant, then his face turned red and he, too, stared at the floor. Sol was the only one that didn’t understand as she still had a confused look on her face.
“I was going to break that syringe, but unfortunately… he ran away. He was lucky.”
She wore a disappointed expression as she said those words, then licked her lips. In response, An Hyun gulped and hurriedly squeezed his legs together.
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