༺ Pleasant Daily Life (2) ༻
The bus jolted along the road. Through the window, a skyline filled with tall buildings sped by.
A scene of the downtown, the stereotypical scene you’d see in ‘big cities’ with all those big corporate buildings and tall structures gathered in one place.
At first, Sharon was amazed by such a sight.
But, after living in this bustling metropolis for ten years, she had grown somewhat accustomed to it.
With Gwanghwamun entering their view, it marked that they were getting closer to their destination.
Sharon let out a deep sigh.
Sitting beside her, Siwoo asked casually.
Despite what happened yesterday, their friendship remained strong.
As they had breakfast together, any lingering awkwardness dissipated, and they returned to their usual selves.
However, Sharon felt oddly uncomfortable with Siwoo’s friendly demeanor.
The reason for that was the fact that she had been deceiving Siwoo by telling him that she believed his white lies.
“Nothing. Just… Tired… I guess…”
“Since you’re going to quit your part-time job, why don’t you take a break?”
“That sounds tempting, but nah. Also I’m not ready to quit yet.”
They exchanged such conversation idly, and after it ended, Sharon drifted back to her thoughts.
Siwoo unexpectedly decided to tag along with her to exchange the crystals they got from the Homunculi the other day.
However, since he was keeping his identity as a witch and his ability to use magic hidden, he couldn’t accompany her all the way to the Witch Point.
Hence, their plan was for him to wait nearby while Sharon completing the exchange. Then, they’d go to a nearby pasta restaurant.
But, there was still an unaddressed problem with this arrangement. Della.
She had defeated Sharon and forcefully took over her hunting ground.
Although the other day she didn’t come to intervene during their hunt, and they managed to reap a good harvest, the exchange might draw the attention of other witches, creating rumors that would eventually reach her ears.
‘If that crazy bitch were to hear it, what would she do…?’
‘Wait, what if I bumped into her before the exchange even began?’
Such a multitude of worries made her stress level skyrocketed.
Her head felt like it was about to explode.
“I’ll wait outside. How long will it take?”
“It won’t take long. Around thirty minutes at most.”
“Alright, I’ll wait for you at the cafe.”
The two stepped off the bus together.
She glanced towards the cafe where Siwoo would wait before checking her leather pouch one last time.
This pouch was an heirloom, enchanted with magic to keep its weight light, and expand the space inside it.
And, inside said pouch, there was a pile of crystals rattling as her movement shook the pouch itself.
With an anxious heart, she headed towards the exchange spot.
She took the elevator straight to the exchange counter, while hoping to avoid Della.
To her relief, there were no other witches there when she arrived.
“Welcome, Miss Evergreen. It’s been a while since we last met.”
“I’ve been busy lately. Please exchange all of these.”
The Witch Point employee behind the counter, dressed like a bank teller, greeted Sharon with an amiable, office-like smile.
Almost immediately, that smile turned into astonishment.
As Sharon poured the content of her leather pouch onto the counter plate, countless crystals spilled out endlessly. The sight reminded one of a pachinko machine hitting the jackpot.
The receptionist’s eyes darted around momentarily at the piled up crystals.
“Um… I’ll verify this… And proceed with the exchange quickly…”
Despite the unexpected situation, the courteous receptionist began to diligently weigh the crystals after a few back-and-forth trips.
Meanwhile, Sharon leaned against the wall, anxiously peeking at the entrance.
‘This is taking longer than expected…’
The whole verification process took a lot of time. All this waiting and they hadn’t even begun weighing the crystals.
After a while, she couldn’t hold back her anxiety anymore. She moved from where she was, and was about to urge the receptionist to hurry up when said receptionist suddenly emerged from behind the counter.
“The total weight is confirmed to be 54 kg and 552.2 grams. You’ve gathered quite a lot of them.”
‘That’s 5.45 billion won…’
Even in this tense situation, she had to restrain the urge to drop her jaw at the mind-boggling amount.
But then she realized something was off.
Unlike usual, she hadn’t received the usual white envelope filled with cash they always handed over during such exchanges.
“Hey, what about the money?”
“The amount of cash held by each Witch Point Branch is limited. For any exchange that exceeded 100 million, we’ll make the payment through individual’s bank accounts.:”
“Individual… Bank accounts…? I don’t have that…”
One needed a fake ID to make a bank account.
But, she couldn’t even have that, so there was no way she had a bank account.
‘Wait, I used Siwoo’s account for yesterday’s online purchases, didn’t I?’
‘I have enough money to pay it in my wallet, though…’
“Don’t worry, the payment will go through our Witch Bank, not a regular bank.”
‘That’s a stupid name.’
Sharon thought to herself.
‘But still, I have to get an account if I want to get my money…’
“Yes. If you don’t have an account, you can fill out this paperwork, if you don’t mind. After that, it’ll take ten minutes from the account creation to us depositing the money.”
In response to Sharon’s concern, the receptionist slid a catalog across the counter.
On top of the paper were emblems representing Countess Gemini, seeing it sent chills down her spine, Countess Yesod’s thick pillar-shaped emblem, and the Gehenna Bank’s gold coin symbol.
She quickly scribbled her signature on the paper before handing it back.
The receptionist received the paper, went to the computer on the desk, handed her a card and another piece of paper, then began reciting the terms and conditions.
“Sharon Evergreen, your account number is WB-G0J1-1SOQVG5. We’ve deposited 54.5 billion won to you today. Please note that you can’t transfer the ownership of this account to anyone, and any usage of the account that violates Gehenna’s laws may result in its confiscation without any warning.”
“This account number looks weird…”
With a suspicious expression, she meticulously scanned the paper containing her account and (vaguely written) personal information, alongside the terms and conditions.
She wouldn’t act like this if she were dealing with a small amount of money, but that wasn’t the case here.
“If you visit the bank in the first financial sector and show them the card, you’ll be able to conduct regular transactions.”
In reality, this procedure served not just for the witches’ convenience, but also as a surveillance measure.
This would allow Gehenna to track the funds that the witches and the Exiles possessed in the modern world, and prevent covert exchange of crystals by those with ‘Criminal’ status.
Though Gehenna held an agreement with various nations in the Modern World regarding the Homunculi’s hunt, Gehenna still didn’t want those who caused harm to them to receive the benefits of that agreement.
After verifying the deposited amount, Sharon thanked the receptionist and inquired if there was a way to keep today’s substantial exchange private.
The receptionist gave her a suspicious look, but she didn’t say anything before nodding.
Though she was uncertain of its reliability, this basic security measure offered Sharon some small relief.
After that, she visited the Witch Point’s Information Exchange Center to submit the heart sample she acquired the day before.
Using the worldwide Witch Points’ accumulated database, an initial analysis would precede a more thorough examination by the affiliated witches.
When she was informed that any further revelations would need to be discreetly communicated through correspondence, half an hour had already passed since she split up with Siwoo.
She then hurriedly made her way to the cafe where Siwoo was waiting.
“Where should I invest all this money…?”
Sharon had been struggling with her quarters until now, so when she suddenly got a lot of money like this, she found herself not knowing what to do with them.
Aware of the idea of money begets money in a capitalist society, she was considering how to make her newfound capital grow.
“I heard that land prices in Seoul are skyrocketing these days. What do you think?”
After she met Siwoo at the cafe, they walked down the street together.
Her musings were interrupted by Siwoo’s sudden interjection.
“Are you thinking of going for real estate?”
“Well, like I said, the land prices in Seoul are skyrocketing, and they’ll likely keep increasing for a while. With this kind of money, wouldn’t you be able to buy at least one or two apartments?”
“How much did it increase by?”
Siwoo quickly reached for his smartphone and presented an article to Sharon.
“…What?! 30% annual increase rate?!”
With 5.4 billion won in her possession, she could make a profit of around 1.6 billion won each year.
Considering investing the remaining money in real estate with a forged identity might generate a significantly higher income than the interest on the money she borrowed from the Gemini.
‘I’ll need to research how stable the industry is first, but it seems riskier than investing in cryptocurrency…’
She was overwhelmed with emotion.
Despite numerous unresolved and undisclosed issues, she couldn’t deny the happiness she felt in the moment.
It was like finding a glimmer of hope in an otherwise impenetrable darkness.
She unknowingly slid her arm under Siwoo’s as the latter walked with his hands in his pockets.
In reality, she had been holding back her urge to just embrace him right there and then.
Meanwhile, Siwoo was surprised by her sudden action, and the sudden pressure he felt from her plump chest.
“Siwoo… Should we… Do that thing again…?”
“Oi, what are you talking about? This is a public place!”
They were talking about her unique way to make Siwoo happy, something that they both had just learned yesterday.
Her unexpected proposal left him visibly flustered.
Meanwhile, she inadvertently hid her laughter.
‘He’s so cute~’
Previously, she had always thought that if she were to date someone, he should be a dependable and upright man, with a sturdy and tall body like a pine tree. But recently, she had different thoughts.
“Did I say something strange? I didn’t even say anything about what I would do.”
He willingly extended significant kindness to her, yet he felt uncomfortable and embarrassed when she tried to repay him.
Despite him being in a position where he could easily act like a jerk toward her, he didn’t. Even when she was teasing him, he only tried to resist her a little, and that was it.
Still, when it counted, he courageously took the lead, risking his life to protect her.
‘This is what a truly admirable man looks like, huh?’
Cupping her hands, she leaned in and whispered into his ear.
“Just kidding. By ‘thing’, yes I was talking about the thing we did yesterday.”
“Please, go easy on me…”
“Your face is red~”
As Sharon was teasing him, he tried to pull his arm away, as if he was angry, but there was no force behind his movement.
He was just pretending to be angry due to his embarrassment, and Sharon knew this.
“Are you upset?”
“No. Why would I?”
“So, you aren’t upset?”
“Then, why are you sulking?”
Their conversation might be incomparable to a couple in a full-blown argument, but if one were to record their interaction on the video, their dynamics as a couple was quite noticeable.
“Do you want to see my chest now?”
“When we get home.”
“How considerate~ You can ask me to show them here if you want to, you know~?”
Possessing a hefty sum of money, Sharon’s excitement was high, and she kept on teasing Siwoo who could only reply to her awkwardly.
From a third person’s view, the two of them looked quite affectionate.
This went for a while, to the point that Siwoo could only show a wry smile as he couldn’t even compose any words to retort.
At that moment…
Sharon’s smile suddenly disappeared from her face.
Her face had turned pale, as if she had just seen a ghost.
As the saying goes, the world was indeed a small place.
Right when they entered the alley leading toward the nearby pasta restaurant, she encountered her worst enemy.
Normally, she could just pretend that she didn’t see her and walk by, but because they were standing face-to-face, that was not an option at all.
Said enemy was none other than the wicked witch who had been tormenting her persistently.
Della Redcliffe, the bitch of all bitches.