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I returned home before it was too late in the night.
As soon as I opened the door, Evandel and Hayang ran up to me. By now, I was used to Evandel's 'Hajin Hajin' and Hayang's meowing.
I hugged the two children and sat down on the couch.
I bought an animated movie, which I promised Evandel, and put it on TV.
Evandel and Hayang both became silent the moment the film distributors logo popped up on screen.
No matter how much I thought about it, Hayang's intelligence seemed to be at the level of humans. Not only did she refuse to eat normal cat food, she knew to be absolutely obedient to this household's ruler - me.
"…Wait a minute."
Suddenly, I caught sight of the ring on my finger and Hayang's wagging tail.
I had a strange idea.
Who said only humans could wear rings?
[Homer's Ring] [Artifact] [Awakened]
A ring that was worn by Homer in the past.
Resonates with nature and endows its wearer with a crystal clear energy
「Intelligence Increase - increases the wearer's intelligence by 0.001 points every 24 hours up to a maximum of 0.365 points.」
「High rank Magic Power Amplification」
Out of curiosity, I modified the ring's setting.
「Intelligence Increase - increases the wearer's intelligence by 0.001 points every 24 hours up to a maximum of 0.365 points.」
「For one selected non-human target, the increase becomes 0.01 point per 12 hours.」
[40 SP will be used.]
"Huh? This works?"
I tried calculating in my head.
With 0.02 points per day, 18 days were enough to obtain the maximum stat increase.
Plus, the required SP was small.
…What if I got rid of the non-human part?
「The rate of intelligence increase will double for the first person who wears it.」
[250 SP will be used.]
The required SP was 250. It seemed the gap between a human and an animal was big.
I fell into thought for a moment.
The cost was 40 SP and 18 days' worth of time.
Would Hayang be able to help me more if she was smarter?
I looked at Hayang who was in Evandel's arms.
Although she might not be able to help me, she should be able to help Evandel.
…It probably wouldn't hurt.
I put the ring on Hayang's tail.
Hayang turned and looked at me, then found the ring on her tail.
1 second, 2 seconds, 3 seconds…. She stared at the ring fixedly, then wagged her tail, seemingly satisfied by the ring's sparkle.
"Let's see how smarter you are in two weeks."
I stroked Hayang's back.
Because of Hayang, I thought of the wolf Evandel gave me.
I turned on my laptop and checked the wolf's stats.
[Servant] [Intermediate rank]
—The first Servant created by the witch, Evandel.
[Bite force 6.150]
[Magic power 3.850]
*Ability to sense danger.
*Strengthens itself through absorption.
*Merges into its master's body in the form of a tattoo, charging its magic power and strengthening its master's stats.
*Its growth potential and hierarchical rank is superior to other Servants.
▷Unity of Soul
*Grows stronger to match the level of its creator witch.
First, I was surprised by its stats. Its speed and perception stats were especially incredible. If its vitality and stamina stats increased, I could even ride it instead of my bike.
What caught my attention next was the word 'Servant'.
"So that's why."
Then I understood why it was so strong.
The ability to create Servants was one of a witch's authority. In doing so, a witch would separate a part of her soul to create a 'clone' of sorts.
As a result, Servants were stronger than a witch's normal creations, and a witch was only able to create three to five Servants throughout her life.
In the original story, Evandel's most notorious Servant was the three-headed dog, Cerberus. I remember taking special care in describing it. A huge body burning with black flames… or something like that.
"…I'll have to give the Under Armor to him."
This wolf had the potential to grow into a real Fenrir.
But why did Evandel choose a wolf? Did I resemble one like Boss said?
"Haha, look at that, Hayang."
I could hear Evandel's giggling.
She was focused on watching the animated movie.
She laughed at the funny scenes, stared in shock at the serious scenes, teared up at the sad scenes, and moved her head side to side for racing scenes.
I received a message.
[Traveling club. This Sat.u.r.day, we will go to a festival in Busan. Please RSVP to say whether you are going or not.]
I furrowed my brows.
To be frank, the traveling club would get involved in some sort of trouble every time it went out.
Evandel tilted her head to the right following the car on TV. I carefully placed my hand on her head.
"Let's go out and play this Friday."
The traveling club's destination was Busan. Since the festival was Sat.u.r.day and Sunday, I should be able to grab a hotel room and play with Evandel on Friday.
Evandel's eyes sparkled.
"Yeah, it looks like I'll have time on Friday. Since we went to Disneyland last week, this week, we will…."
Evandel's eyes sparkled with antic.i.p.ation.
"Go to a festival."
Friday, 2 P.M.
"Combat magic is important, yet simple."
Currently, I was in the middle of [Combat Magic and High-rank Magic Application] cla.s.s.
I glanced at Tomer who was sitting next to me. She was jotting down notes as though she wasn't affected in any way.
Recently, I was talking with Tomer a lot.
Tomer stealthily asked me questions on Agus Benjamin, like what kind of relations.h.i.+p I had with him and what kind of a person he was. As I replied to her questions, I set up devices to bring Tomer to my side.
The cremation urn of Tomer's father should currently be surrounded by flowers I gifted.
"Most spells require you to refine the magic power inside your body. However, there are spells where this is unnecessary. The most well-known example is the Barrier spell…."
The cla.s.s continued, seemingly without end.
Just when I was about to doze off, Tomer tapped on my shoulder. When I wiped away my drool and turned to the side, she gave me a piece of paper.
[How did you get close to that person?]
I looked at the paper, then at Tomer's face.
She had a serious expression.
I cleared my throat and began to jot down the reply.
[It wasn't easy.]
[So how? The nurses said even they couldn't get close to him.]
[Well… he didn't have a family. We were in similar situations.]
With that, I pa.s.sed the paper back.
Tomer looked like she didn't understand what I meant as she began to jot down her next question.
[What do you mean by similar]
However, she stopped writing mid-sentence.
Since she should have investigated my background, she would know that I'm an orphan.
Tomer glanced at me with sympathy, then scratched out her previous sentence and wrote a new one.
Next, I took the lead.
[You've been asking about him since last week. Why?]
[That person is my biological father.]
I wanted to poke her a bit, but I never expect her to drop the bomb.
I was seriously taken aback.
[I know what you're thinking. I feel the same way. I never thought I'd find someone who knew him either.]
Tomer jotted down quickly.
[That person abandoned me and ran away. That's why I've been looking for him.]
I closed my mouth.
Unlike Tomer, I knew the truth. Tomer's father didn't abandon her and run away.
It was the opposite.
He had protected her by leaving. The reason he killed his wife was because she became a Djinn and tried to sell off their daughter.
[So, I'm wondering. Did that bas… person leave a will or keepsake behind?]
The South American culture back then was to kill off all relatives related to Djinns. Because of this witch hunt culture, Tomer's father had chosen to become a criminal.
Although he ran away to protect his daughter, he had always missed her and wanted to see her. The letter he left behind was for that purpose.
[Yeah, he left behind a letter.]
Immediately, Tomer's eyes flickered with coldness.
[In a memorial, along with his cremation urn.]
[Where's the memorial?]
[Let's go together. I'll take you there.]
[Shut up and just give me the address.]
…Although the theatrical effect wouldn't be as strong if Tomer went alone, it didn't matter too much.
I gave her the address.
Tomer typed the address on her smart.w.a.tch, then wrote on the paper once again.
[By the way, today will be my last day at Cube. I'm not trying to run off with your money, so don't misunderstand.]
It was then.
Kim Hyojun, the chief magician from Seoul Magic Tower who was giving the lecture, pointed at us.
"Are you two in a relations.h.i.+p?"
Only then did I realize what position Tomer and I were in. Our arms were practically touching while we were writing secrets notes to each other.
Tomer quickly scurried off to the side, but the cadets' attention had already fallen on us.
"I don't think you guys suit each other… also, dating so openly is prohibited in Cube."
"It's not like that."
As I answered, I felt an intense stare on me.
It was Chae Nayun. Yoo Yeonha, who was sitting next to Chae Nayun, was taking notes without caring about Tomer and me, but Chae Nayun was glaring at me with puffed up cheeks.
"Cadet Kim Hajin? Come here for a minute."
…I knew this would happen. There was no chance Kim Hyojun would just let this slide. He was the type who embarra.s.sed students to make himself feel superior.
I scratched my neck and got up the front of the cla.s.s.
"Cadet Kim Hajin, you pa.s.sed the first semester with average scores all around."
Kim Hyojun projected the scores I got on last semester's tests.
Light Sphere, magic power emission, magic power harmonization, etc.
The scores were all between C and B+.
"Then what was today's lesson about?"
I didn't know.
I was dozing off.
While I was at a loss for words, a quiet whisper rang out.
It was Kim Suho.
"…That's right. Can you demonstrate it for the cla.s.s?"
Kim Hyojun asked.
I suddenly remembered a scene from the original story.
Seoul Magic Tower's Chief Magician Kim Hyojun.
Just like I explained in the first semester, Kim Hyojun was a jealous, petty p.r.i.c.k who bothered Kim Suho in various ways.
"Yes, try it."
Feeling a bit nervous, my lips parched up.
I activated Stigma's magic power and created a Barrier that was only big enough to cover my upper body.
Doing so cost one and a half streaks of Stigma.
A clear and glaringly blue magic power formed a pentagon that covered my upper body.
In my eyes, it looked quite decent. The pentagonal barrier had a vein-like circuit that efficiently transported magic power across the barrier. As magic power pa.s.sed through, the magic power circuit glowed with a pretty blue color.
Although I didn't mean to, what I created was a perfect Barrier.
Kim Hyojun made a somewhat displeased expression, but he soon put on a fake smile and praised me.
"…It looks good. The magic power's transparency is especially noteworthy."
However, he quickly added negative remarks.
"But it's weak, too weak. Everyone, do you know what the problem is with a cadet like him?"
He suddenly turned to the cla.s.s and lectured as though I did something deplorable.
"It looks pretty on the outside. In fact, it's extremely pretty, as if its appearance is all that matters. No, that's the truth."
I glanced at my barrier.
It was just what Stigma gave me.
"Cadet Kim Hajin!"
Suddenly, Kim Hyojun pointed fingers at me.
"You are not a celebrity! A Barrier must be st.u.r.dy, even if its appearance isn't the best!"
Kim Hyojun ignited a fireball on his palm.
"The Barrier you created will be blown away by even this tiny fireball."
I stared at the fireball.
To be honest, I didn't think it would penetrate my Barrier.
"Cadet Kim Hajin, are you ready?"
"Yes? Ah, yes."
"Then I will now demonstrate why a Barrier shouldn't just be pretty."
Kim Hyojun didn't throw the fireball. An instantaneous combustion of magic power sent the fireball quickly flying toward me on its own.
A small explosion erupted, along with a light smoke.
However, my Barrier was perfectly fine, and the fireball scattered when it touched my Barrier.
Immediately, a heavy silence descended.
I was surprised.
As I thought, Stigma's magic power was qualitatively on a whole nother level. Its only flaw was its quant.i.ty.
"…K-Kuhum, looks like it isn't so bad. BUT!"
At that moment, the bell rang signaling the end of cla.s.s and cutting off Kim Hyojun.
After letting out a sigh, Kim Hyojun glared at me uncomfortably and muttered with his teeth clenched.
"You can go back to your seat."
Friday's final cla.s.s ended just like that.
A large, 1500-square-meter mansion located in Gangnam, Seoul.
This Western-style castle, which took up land that was tens of billions of won, was the family house of the famous Yoo clan.
Yoo Yeonha came here today as soon as cla.s.s ended.
"Welcome home, Young Lady."
When she approached the front door, a butler greeted her politely.
"It's been a while. So… are Father and Mother home?"
Yoo Yeonha whispered.
"Master is on a business trip, and Mistress left for a seminar."
"Oh~? How unfortunate… I dropped by to see them."
"Should I give them a call? Mistress left not too long ago."
"Yes? Ah, no, you don't need to do that."
Yoo Yeonha smiled happily as she gave her baggage to the butler. With even her Mother gone, the situation was better than she expected.
"I have exams coming up, so I'll go up to the library to read Father's books."
"Yes, Young Lady."
Although she knew her father and mother weren't home, she still tiptoed upstairs to her Father's library.
It was to look for information regarding the Kw.a.n.g-Oh incident.
"I haven't been here in such a long time…."
Her father's library was filled with tens of thousands of books. The entire collection would be just as expensive as their family house.
However, Yoo Yeonha's attention was elsewhere.
She pushed aside her father's desk and moved the carpet that was underneath it.
A secret vault revealed itself.
"…Huh? It needs a pa.s.sword now?"
Ten years ago, it was only a simple box.
Yoo Yeonha thought for a moment, then pushed four numbers.
It wasn't Yoo Yeonha's birthday.
It wasn't her mother's birthday either.
Yoo Yeonha thought harder.
Although there was a skilled hacker among her investigators, this vault wasn't connected to the internet, so it was impossible to hack into it. Did she have to give up after coming all the way here…?
Suddenly remembering something, she put together her birthday with her mother's.
Peebeep— The vault opened.
Inside, she found an old and thick diary.
It was the diary her father kept for 20 years. Flipping through pages of the diary, Yoo Yeonha looked for the word 'Kw.a.n.g-Oh'.
Kw.a.n.g-Oh, Kw.a.n.g-Oh, Kw.a.n.g-Oh….
"Ah, here it is."
[Today, I received a report on Kw.a.n.g-Oh.]
September 9th, 2008.
Yoo Yeonha began to read the diary happily.