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“Soo-Hyun, what are you doing?”
After poking her head inside to make sure that I was in the room, Yoo-Jung quickly walked in. Her voice hinted at some sort of complaint. Seeing her pouty face, I thought that it might be the beginning of one of her annoying rants. I placed the document that was in my left hand down and let out a heavy sigh.
“What is it this time?”
Noticing my annoyed tone, Yoo-Jung pouted even heavier before speaking.
“Sol keeps bragging about how you allowed her to train in a different way. She’s been tossing and catching coins in the air… such a show-off.”
“There’s nothing for her to show-off. Also, is Sol really the type of person to show-off like that?
“I’m being serious. She keeps tossing and catching coins…”
“She’s practicing restraint magic like I told her to.”
As I cut her off a disappointed expression floated onto her face. Right when I was about to pick up the document again, I heard Yoo-Jung mumbling to herself.
“You’re so mean. You’re still having Hyun and me to train Sense.
“Because you guys need to. For beginners specializing in close range combat knowing Sense is enough.”
Despite me having warned her about it, Yoo-Jung still started to whine like a child. She was giving me a headache.
“Still what? Sol’s mana level was higher than yours from the beginning. For a support user to be at that level is more than enough. Also, Sol’s training won’t be really beneficial to you.”
Several days passed, and Sol had been the one to master the Sense skill the fastest out of the three. Sol was able to fully utilize the enormous amount of mana that she had— after she had been taught how by me. No matter who the instructor had been or how they had taught her before, she hadn’t progressed as fast as she did under me. Seeing herself improve day by day, Sol began to look at me as some sort of God.
During my first battle, I achieved the title of “Sword Master” while possessing only 45 points in mana. That’s why I was confident when it came to teaching Sol to manage mana level efficiently. It was reasonable for the others to believe that I was favoring Sol as I was making full use of my knowledge about mana management.
Yoo-Jung seemed really dissatisfied that Sol was progressing so fast. Even after that one incident, Yoo-Jung would always come into my room and beg me for private lessons whenever I returned to the Inn. I tried to reason with her in the beginning, but, as it happened so often, it quickly became a chore.
“All I taught her was how to manage her mana. Anyways, go train your Sense. Look at Sol. She’s been practicing really hard because of how motivated she is.”
“Je-ez~! You’re always complimenting Sol! I’m going to go rest a bit.”
Wearing a dissatisfied expression, she slowly walked forward and took a seat beside me. After shrugging my shoulders, I turned my attention back to the map. Yoo-Jung observed me doing so then grabbed a few pieces of paper lying on the table near her.
“Ancient times…alchemy…revival, and…end? Soo-Hyun, what exactly is this?”
“There wasn’t much in it. You can just leave it anywhere.”
After finishing the document on ancient alchemy, I circled part of the map with a pen. Yoo-Jung saw the several circles on the map then continued to question quietly.
“What is this? And what are these circles?”
“Recording notes. Analyzing the map.”
“I’m serious. I’m curious about what you’ve been doing these days.”
Frustrated with my answer, Yoo-Jung raised her voice and whined. I continued to talk while still focusing on the map.
“I’m analyzing the records. It’s inefficient to just kill the monsters that are around the city. I’m trying to get a lead about a place by reading the old records on Mule in the past.”
“I see…you can find this lead by reading these?”
“Winning the lottery would be more probable.”
I had a bitter look on my face while saying so, but Yoo-Jung giggled in response. There were stacks of documents on the table; I had brought every document related to the alchemists and any hinting at the laboratory.
Even after I get a good idea, I would often look over the records again to get a better idea because of how much there actually was. There was no way for me to confirm the legitimacy of the documents’ contents, so following every word written on these pieces of paper could be seen as wasting time.
Yet that was exactly what I was doing. I didn’t even bother looking at the other documents hinting at other potential discoveries; I was at least sure that there was both a laboratory and an alchemist dungeon in Mule. Else, I would’ve gone straight to the Screaming Cave.
Tired, I continued to talk.
“If it can be easily found, others would have chanced upon it much earlier. I have no choice but to put in my all…”
Yoo-Jung seemed to find this interesting as her expression brightened. She offered her help, which I readily accepted. I already knew what to expect in five minutes.
Barely past the five minutes mark, Yoo-Jung started to stare at me. Mentioning something An Hyun, something-something An Sol, she made the excuse that she had to train and left. With her personality, there was no way for her to endure this tedious chore.
Seeing her leave made me smirk as I turned my attention back to the map.
More time passed. The once bare map was now filled with circles. However, the circle in some places overlapped. Nothing is confirmed until I visit the location, but here at least were some assumptions.
Thinking that I was done, I leaned back deeply into the chair. Looking out the window, I found that it was already night. I suddenly thought of the others, so I used Sense on impulse and heard their quiet breathing. It seemed like they had quickly gone to sleep after training. Thinking of how much they had improved, a smile appeared on my face.
They met my expectations after a couple of days. Their desire to leave the city was blatant, but thankfully they decided to listen to my suggestion to train first.
There was only one reason they were following me, and not mindlessly so: they just trusted in me just enough to believe that things will work out if they just listen to me. The Rite of Passage, the User Academy— by following my instructions, they hadn’t experienced loss even up to this point.
Even though they complained about their current training, they still improved. They only trained in using Sense, but their mana and other attributes increased as well. I was envious of Hyun raising two points in mana as a result, as well as his subsequent happiness.
In the beginning, I had entered the academy with the four points rewarded as the goal. Even so, I was disappointed that my stamina remained stagnant even after the grueling training.
As it was an issue I currently had no solution to, I ignored it. I started to think that we were getting about ready to foray outside the city, but there was still a last, relatively minute issue I had to iron out.
That issue… was the group itself.
As long as it was monsters near the city, the exact makeup of the group didn’t really matter. However, venturing further out exploring and advancing required a more balanced group. We had many close-range combatants, but an archer and a priest were common necessities for each party.
However, I wondered if it was truly a necessity right now. We needed a priest, but we had Sol. A magician wasn’t crucial, and, if needed, I could act the archer and be the leader. My Third Eye, coupled with the fact that I’ve poured so much time into learning Mule, guaranteed that there was no chance of us getting lost.
But… if the others got too accustomed to the current group it could become a problem later. While I’m able to cover many of the roles of a group, I can’t baby them forever; it wouldn’t even be possible to on high-leveled explorations. This will be their first exploration so they’ll learn a lot, but compliance will lead to issues in the future.
Someone knocked on the door while I was thinking about the group’s makeup. My Sense detected a woman standing outside the door. I whispered quietly.
“Who is it?”
“It’s me. You already knew it was me.”
Without getting further confirmation, the woman opened the door and entered the room. Of course, I had known it was a woman, but it was hard to tell that it was the innkeeper. To be honest, I wasn’t sure why a skilled user such as her was staying in Mule.
Her whereabouts were often unknown; the woman would disappear one day and reappear another. In the end, when she appeared again in Hall Plain she became the enemy of the clan I was affiliated with.
Her words to me then were still fresh in my mind.
If I had met this woman first I might’ve followed her. She was that charming.
There was a possibility that she was still unaffiliated with any clan as of now.
Operation Ragnarok Annihilation flashed through my mind. She had encountered the Princess of Death as her enemy and ended up executed. The power she displayed, however, was carved deeply into my memories.
The woman had a light smile on her face. She had slightly droopy eyes and the mole near her eye stood out. She was a woman with a lot of charm. She spoke in a friendly tone.
“Hello. Mind if I come in for a bit?”
I’m not sure why she asked since she was already in the room. With a bitter expression, I nodded my head.
“…What brings you here so late in the night?”
The woman didn’t answer, yet she was closing the gap between us. The woman that stood in front of me could take my life in an instant in a moment of inattentiveness. Since I couldn’t trust her, I slowly started to gather my mana.
She still had a light smile on her face. Within seconds, her eyes changed to gray. As I was on guard from the start, I instinctively activated the Third Eye.
『Inherent Skill, Checking the Eyes of Temptation.』
『The Third Eye has been activated. Detecting Eyes of Temptation.』
“Wow…am I only allowed to seduce guys that I like at a certain time?”
“…The others are next door…”
You must be joking. I had experienced this sort of attack so many times that I’ve grown weary. That’s why I was able to counter-attack, but I acted lightheaded and answered with while blushing on purpose. I needed to see what she was going to do.
“It’s okay…don’t worry about that. Anyways, today is the last day you’ll be able to rent out the rooms. What are your plans now?”
Coming this late just to ask about rent? She was definitely up to something. She was probably testing whether or not I was actually charmed. I carefully opened my mouth, acting a bit hesitant.
“I’m thinking about leaving the city tomorrow morning…”
When I told her I was going to leave, she carefully looked at my table. I noticed her expression oddly changing. Briefly glancing at the map, she probably had an idea of what I was going to do.
“User Kim Soo-Hyun.”
“H-how did you know my name…”
After saying my name, she took a step forward. We were at arm’s length.
“You’re that new user. The super rookie of the User Academy.”
The woman took another step forward. While I was sitting on the chair, we looked at each other while she stood in front of me. With her grey-colored eyes, the woman started staring at me.
“No matter how you look at it…well, you’ve only been a user for four months.”
The woman extended her hand and softly touched my face. I felt the woman’s soft touch on my left cheek. I purposely started breathing heavily while letting out a slight gasp.
“I was really surprised that day. Even with a small amount of mana, I didn’t think a new user that recently graduated from the academy was able to use Break.”
“That was why I’ve been watching you and trying to gather information…but I couldn’t be certain of anything. I couldn’t get a grasp of your plans. This is the first time a situation like this has arisen, so I’m confused. But the more I look at you, the more I think my hunch is right… there is something different. You’re hiding something.”
She must’ve believed that I was completely seduced because she got closer. When she was about to withdraw the hand that was softly touching my face, I quickly grabbed hold. The smile on the woman’s face grew wider after seeing my action.
“My hunches has never been wrong.”
I purposely placed myself within the woman’s chest. Like a baby that was being held in their mother’s arms. To be honest, during that battle the first time around I did want to snuggle into her arms at least once. I wasn’t sure if she knew, but with a satisfied expression, she pulled my head closer. I pushed myself deep into the woman’s breasts.
I was savoring the woman’s soft, tender breasts and her smell. Seeing me act that way, a slight smile appeared on her face. She petted my head for a while before stopping and started to speak.
“Are you hiding something? From the others, maybe?”
“Then will you tell me what it is that you’re hiding…?”
At my slight refusal, the woman hugged me even tighter. In a soothing voice, she spoke again.
“It’s okay…just tell me.”
Hearing her soothing voice, I slightly opened my eyes. I acted like I was contemplating for a bit as if I was about to confess.
“I won’t lie to you, I…”
Seeing her excited face, I slowly opened my mouth.
“I like shadows.”
I was looking at the woman’s shadow that was in the room. Her shadow on the floor was what caught my attention. I answered her query while lightly laughing.
“Your shadow is really pretty.”
After I finished talking, I looked at the woman and saw her expression hardening.
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