I tried to explain the true value of the branch logically. The evidence I provided was rather simplistic, but it was persuasive nonetheless.
I said that it was impossible for a simple branch to be the reward for killing the Swordsman of Destruction. So rather than concluding that this branch was an ordinary branch, it was more logical to assume that it was special.
I then pretended to think about folktales and legends related to a branch and said there was one folktale that fit the bill.
“…There’s only one branch that comes to mind. Misteltein.”
Misteltein, the branch that slew the Nordic God of Light, Baldur.
When Kim Suho heard this divine name of myths, his eyes widened in shock. I continued my explanation.
“But as you know, a divine weapon needs to undergo one or more awakenings to fully reveal itself. This branch must be the unawakened Misteltein.”
I stared at the branch on the ground. It really did look like an ordinary branch.
“That’s why it looks so simple.”
“Ah, I see… then we should figure out how to awaken it, right?”
I stared at the Caucasian man Kim Suho defeated. He was collapsed on the ground. It didn’t look like he was pretending to be unconscious either.
The fact that his body was there meant that Kim Suho had not killed him.
Of course, Kim Suho didn't have a real reason to kill him, as it looked like the man didn’t reveal that he was a Djinn.
In reality, Devil Transformation was close to being a forbidden, secret technique among Djinns who infiltrated human society. The baldy only used it because he felt he would have died otherwise.
“Why don’t we get out of here first?”
I spoke as I pointed at the Caucasian man. As I didn’t know when he would wake up, it didn’t feel right staying here any longer.
“Yeah, that’s a good idea.”
I didn’t reveal to Kim Suho that the Caucasian man was a Djinn.
It was because I was worried about the stock price plummeting. The worst thing that could happen was Packhorse Master’s stock becoming trash. After all, I threw all the money I made so far into it.
“Oh right, what happened to the man you fought?”
Kim Suho suddenly asked.
“…He ran away.”
“Oh, then what should we do about that one? Shouldn’t we report him to the Association?”
“No, we don’t have any evidence. Plus, this place is the hidden stage of the Dungeon they were conquering. Since we are the ones who entered without going through proper procedures, we might end up getting punished instead.”
Of course, this was all a lie to protect my wealth.
We walked out of the Dungeon while talking about various things.
The outside world was already dark. The mountain was eerily lit up by the moon, and the cries of wolves and owls rang out.
It was practically a scene from Hometown Legends.
I was scared, but I didn’t have the strength to continue walking. I sat down on the ground to rest.
My whole body was plagued with pain and fatigue, especially my upper arm. Because I used all of Stigma’s magic power in one blow, it kept throbbing painfully. I couldn’t even move my left arm.
Kim Suho sat down next to me. I pointed at the branch in his hand.
“Put that branch down for a minute.”
Then, using only my right arm, I took out the Butterfly Seedling Dust from my belt bag.
“Take a look.”
I proudly showed him the Butterfly Seedling Dust. Its blue glow made it look like a treasure even at a glance.
Kim Suho asked in surprise.
I stopped in the middle of my sentence. Then, I looked at Kim Suho’s eyes, which shone with curiosity.
This dust was supposed to belong to Kim Suho, but since it ended up in my hands, I thought to use it to give Kim Suho a favorable impression of me.
“It’s a family keepsake…”
“N-No, it’s not a keepsake. I’m just saying that it’s very important to me.”
I quickly corrected myself. Admittedly, saying that it was a family keepsake was going a bit overboard.
“Anyway, this mystical dust can act as a catalyst for awakening hidden potentials of objects and humans. It was a gift from an elemental. You've heard about elementals, right?”
‘I’m using this precious item on Misteltein. Just for you. So, feel grateful.’
That was the nuance I suggested with my words.
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It seemed to have worked as Kim Suho put on a serious face.
“If I put this on Misteltein… something should change.”
I knew that it would undergo its first awakening. Afterwards, the branch would take the form of a sword on its own based on Kim Suho’s increase in skill and the demonic energy cut down by Misteltein.
“I’m going to apply it.”
I went to apply the dust on the branch.
But suddenly, Kim Suho grabbed my wrist. He looked at me with a worried face.
“Are you sure?”
“Didn’t you say it was important to you?”
I laughed subconsciously.
“It’s important, so it should be used at a time like this. Where else would I use it, if not on a divine grade weapon like Misteltein?”
“Just shut up and take it.”
I cut him off and swiped Kim Suho’s hand away. Kim Suho scratched the back of his neck and looked at me half-gratefully, half-worriedly. I could tell that he was deeply touched. It seemed making a big deal out of this was worth it.
I carefully sprinkled the Butterfly Seedling Dust on Misteltein.
The dust seeped into Misteltein, and change was quick to happen.
The dust’s blue light flowed through the branch, and soon the surface of the branch turned black.
Now, it no longer looked like an ordinary branch.
However, there was another change. A leaf sprouted up from the tip of the branch, then fell to the ground.
Was it like this in the original story?
“See, I was right.”
Kim Suho looked down at Misteltein and muttered in awe.
From this black branch, Kim Suho should be able to feel the hidden power of legends and myths.
“Then, as promised…”
I gave Misteltein to Kim Suho. Then, I picked up the leaf on the ground.
“You take the branch, and I’ll take the leaf.”
“Hajin… are you sure? Why don’t we share this weapon? You can use it whenever you need it.”
“Please, I’m not a swordsman. I’ll just die if I fight with a sword.”
I made Kim Suho back down, then stealthily turned on my smartwatch.
—A byproduct left by the god-slaying branch after its awakening.
You can drink a tea brewed with it, which will increase your body’s health, or you can grind it and use it to make an amazing weapon.
I was more than satisfied with this outcome. I smacked my knees and got up.
“Alright, let’s go back now.”
Kamak Mountain was too dangerous for us to stay overnight. We went down the mountain together. Kim Suho took the lead as I followed behind him.
In the middle of walking down the mountain… something grabbed my foot strongly. My body leaned forward.
Thud. I fell to the ground.
I wasn’t hurt. A strong sense of déjà vu came over me.
‘Don’t tell me….’
I inspected my foot.
As expected, I had tripped on a root.
I dug it up carefully. It was a ginseng.
I swallowed hard.
It had a thick body and several roots branched out of it.
It was smaller than the last one I obtained, but it was undoubtedly a ginseng.
I stealthily put it in my cross bag, then chased after Kim Suho who went ahead.
After 30 minutes of hiking down, Kim Suho and I arrived at the Portal Station.
Currently, it was 1:53 A.M. The Portal closed at 2:00.
We barely made it on time.
In front of the Portal Station, Kim Suho turned to face me. His soft voice flowed into my ears.
“Let’s split up here.”
“Hm? What about you?”
“Since I came all the way here, I’m going to stop by and see my family.”
Kim Suho smiled.
“And thank you for today.”
At that moment, a bright moonlight shone down on his face. The silver light revealed his honest eyes and clear smile.
…His appearance evoked something inside me. I remembered something I forgot for a moment.
The man in front of me, Kim Suho, was this world’s main character.
A man who only walked the path of righteousness.
A man who never compromised or abandoned his beliefs.
An ally of justice with conviction stronger than steel, and a seeker of truth who always treaded the correct path.
An existence that was already extinct in the modern world, but one that I always hoped would exist.
A righteous hero, one that I could trust more than anyone else in this world.
That was Suho (守護).
Just like his name, he was the true savior who would protect this world.
I spoke as we separated.
“See you later.”
I came back to the dorm. The room was pitch black.
The sound of the door opening and closing seemed to have awoken Evandel as she trudged into my arms. I went to the couch with Evandel in my embrace. I was dead tired, but I still had one more thing to do.
I looked it up on the internet.
[Peak of mercenaries, Jeronimo. Mission success rate 99.7%]
Jeronimo Mercenary had 23 members. Their profiles were shown on the portal site along with photos.
They were all famous in the field of mercenaries, but in reality, these 23 members were disguises of 5~6 members of the Chameleon Troupe. The one who made this possible was Jain, who had the Gift ‘Camouflage’.
I took out the business card I received.
Boss scouted me, not Shin Jonghak, into Jeronimo Mercenary. I didn’t know why, but it seemed she wanted me to fill in Chameleon Troupe’s empty seat.
I looked down at my smartwatch. Someone had sent me messages four hours ago.
[Can you help me study?]
[I’ll buy you food]
[You gonna ignore me? ㅡㅡ]
It was Chae Nayun. When I saw her messages, I thought about her older brother, Chae Jinyoon. This thought then connected to my thoughts about Chameleon Troupe.
With Chameleon Troupe’s help, I might be able to kill Chae Jinyoon.
Without anyone finding out.
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…Without anyone finding out.
Suwon Devil’s Nest. Everything had already been taken care of in regards to Packhorse Master. Now, Chameleon Troupe’s boss and Jain were watching a video on Kim Hajin.
“A simple rock with that much power… indeed, he’s full of potential. You were right, Boss.”
Jain laughed lightly as she admitted to being wrong.
Although it was the result of pouring out magic power, it wasn’t easy to create such destructive power with just a rock.
But what Jain liked more than his combat prowess was his mercilessness.
If the enemy wasn’t a Djinn, he would have lost his life when he was struck by the rock. At the time, Kim Hajin didn’t know that his enemy was a Djinn.
Kim Hajin had attacked him with calm yet firm killing intent.
“But Boss, why aren’t you watching it until the end? I want to see his Devil Transformation.”
“This is enough. Plus, I don’t want to see that.”
Jain asked, tilting her head. Boss pouted a little and murmured.
The weekend flew by in a breeze, and Monday arrived.
A new week had begun.
“As you all know, Class Competitions will start this Friday. I’m taking volunteers to participate in the events! There’s a variety of them, so each person will have to participate in at least one event.”
Before the start of class, during morning announcements, Yi Yeonghan reminded the class of the upcoming Class Competitions.
I only just remembered it.
It was the first and final event before the midterms.
Just like its name suggested, classes would compete against each other in several events covering all sorts of topics. There were combat-related events like duels, dungeon time attacks, and magic battles, but also entertainment events like gaming, singing, and soccer.
If this was an official competition, only combat events would have been allowed, but this was a festival of sorts for cadets.
Naturally, the cadets began to chatter about the events they wanted to participate in.
“What are you going to do, Rachel-ssi?”
I asked Rachel, who was sitting next to me. Then, Rachel flinched slightly before replying with an awkward smile.
“I’m… planning on doing the quiz event.”
“Oh, the quiz event. Maybe I should do that too.”
“Quiz event is already full.”
Jin Hoseung cut in. I turned toward Jin Hoseung, then faced Rachel again. She nodded.
“Y-Yes… it’s already full. Unfortunately….”
“Oh, I see.”
“Now, now, soccer and basketball are already full. Calm down, everyone.”
Hearing Yi Yeonghan explaining to the class, I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of superhuman sports events they would be.
“We need someone for singing and archery….”
Yi Yeonghan paused momentarily and looked at me. At first, I thought he was looking at someone else. But seeing him grin when he met my eyes, I knew he was looking at me. Soon, other cadets also turned to face me.
I let out a dry cough and spoke.
“…I can handle archery.”
Smiling, Yi Yeonghan put my name down.
Not just in archery, but also singing.
“Wait, hey! What are you doing? Erase that!”
“Alright, thank you everyone! We’re done!”
Yi Yeonghan hit Enter, submitting the participants.
1. Korean drama about ghost stories