༺ Mission Board (3) ༻
“Corn syrup. Put corn syrup in.”
Here comes the Hero.
And there he goes.
Seeing the young man leave after telling him to put corn syrup in, it was natural for Mr. Yoon to be flabbergasted.
“……Is he sick in the head?”
He wanted to ignore the words of a mental patient, but his words telling him to put corn syrup in were echoing around his ears.
“Should I try it?”
Listening to the words of the young man, he made a new sauce by adding corn syrup. The seasoning that was now thick due to the addition of corn syrup looked nice and sweet, and when he plastered it over the fried chicken…
“What! T, this flavor?!”
The crust of the fried chicken went beautifully with the thick sauce and had a soft yet glutinous and chewy texture. The sweetness of corn syrup mixed into the spiciness of chili powder and garlic…!
“Spicy, sweet and salty… SSS!”
Was this the perfect form of chicken?
“W, who in the world is that young man?”
Was he like an apostle sent by the Chicken God or something?
Reflecting on the words left behind by the young passerby, Mr. Yoon quickly started adjusting the recipe.
※ Difficulty: E
※ Reward: Even distribution of 5 points
“Ohh~. This actually worked.”
Mr. Yoon was the owner of the fried chicken store who was the protagonist of the Side Quest: Finding the Origin.
He would succeed in finding the correct recipe for spicy and sweet chicken by himself, but starts a lawsuit against Mr. Yang who was in the same industry as him, due to the betrayal of his staff and Mr. Yang’s claim that he was the original owner of the recipe. It was a realistic yet messy story.
The spicy and sweet fried chicken had been introduced 1 year earlier than the original plot, and the staff traitor wasn’t even hired yet.
“Of course there’s going to be fried chicken in a Korean game.”
In any case with this, the holy and lofty marinated chicken will be introduced to this world. Both Park and I were people who couldn’t give up on fried chicken so this side quest was one of the ones we prioritized over everything.
‘About 25 points from yesterday and today, huh.’
After completing the quest to find Navi the cat, I ran around the city and resolved a few more incidents.
Those quests ranged from finding the lost ring of a widow to guiding a son who fell to the wrong path back to the correct one – they were all from citizens who the system labeled as ‘Good’.
‘That chicken quest confirms it. ‘Neutral’ is also okay.’
The last quest I cleared about Finding the Origin, was a form of test.
In the game, Mr. Yoon’s character was sitting at Neutral.
However, I personally considered him a nice person because he forgave the traitor and often distributed chicken for free.
Was the game status an absolute indication? Or was my perception more important?
My Duty was activated even with the completion of the quest of Mr. Yoon, who was at a Neutral status in the game.
‘So that means my perception is more important than the system.’
That was actually a very good sign because around the 3rd Arc, there would be systemically ‘Good’ characters who were a bit hard to consider as nice people. The fundamentalists of the Old Faith – they had a clear standpoint which was in complete contrast to the priests of the New Faith who had put on the talismans and the seals on Hua Ran.
‘Those damn fundamentalists. You can’t speak logic to them but they’re technically not bad people.’
Fortunately, completing this mission proved that I did not have to prioritize them, and that would give me a fair amount of freedom.
Is this what they call selective justice? It was great that the system was somewhat flexible.
More importantly, the biggest return from this mission was that I could pretty much infinitely earn stats!
Hahaha! There is a dope bug on my stats!!
There was a girl standing on top of the clock tower, a place where people weren’t supposed to reach. Standing on the roof of the best place to gaze down at the whole city, the girl with red eyes looked down on the ground.
For the past two days, she had been observing the man called Korin Lork.
He was a unique type of person just like herself, who had two souls existing in one body. But unlike her, those souls ended up merging into one…
He was like her senior, and she thus couldn’t help but feel intrigued.
It was the first weekend of the semester. She was wondering where he was running off to so early in the morning, and most of them were about helping people.
Finding a missing cat, taking the boy who was with a group of delinquents back home and finding a lost ring.
Although he was getting a few silver coins as reward, Hua Ran now had some idea of the currency system in this continent, as well as how meaningless that small amount of money was to superhumans.
Seeing him give a bright smile at the end despite getting such worthless things in return made her frown.
Why was he working so hard? Was he just born as a nice person?
‘There’s no way a person like that would exist.’
On top of the clock tower with her sleeves fluttering in the wind, the girl closed her eyes. The image floating in her mind which was in a striking contrast to the quiet and peaceful scenery of this city was that of an apocalypse; a world swallowed by flames and the hideous side of humans.
It was an old memory of her original body.
『Oh, my. Ran? Did you come out with your dad?』
The housewife who was greeting with a baby in her arms;
『Are you shopping for your parents? Take this with you』
The tofu seller who greeted her with a smile;
『Are you shopping for your parents? Take this with you』
And even the officials who were there asking master for help–
Every one of them changed their attitudes in the blink of an eye. They cursed the girl and nonchalantly encouraged her demise.
『Die! You monster』
『Please die. We’re begging you』
『We have shredded the limbs of your father to death. We will now subjugate you in the name of the Royal Palace.』
Goodwill was something that was as easy to flip as a piece of paper.
Depending on the necessity and comfort of oneself, people easily changed their minds and killed others. That was what humans were.
From the start to the end, all of them were in the gray zone. Some were jet black but none of them were pure white.
That was why she couldn’t hide her confusion upon seeing Korin Lork with her astral eyes.
The very bottom of the Academy.
He was probably the weakest out of everyone in this academy which she was dragged into. He was so weak that he might snap from her single grip.
So… why was he so diligent at helping other people? What was it that was making that boy smile?
The faint smile he showed to the child after finding the missing cat, and the bright smile on his face after helping others… The boy was dazzling.
It was a naively happy smile. He wasn’t forcing himself to smile nor was he trying to deceive other people. And most importantly…
『Like Mr. Bruce and the green boss, I think it’s possible for two souls to coexist in one body.』
She flinched after hearing that. His words appeared to be about her. That violent green giant sounded like a representation of herself.
“Shut up. Stop mumbling.”
Was the guy called Bruce the same as the weak life inside me?
No. That’s not it. I’m different from them.
This guy was begging for life and wanted to live forever.
This is that price – I have the right to accept it.
That must have been the same for Korin Lork. A stronger soul must have swallowed the weaker soul that was inside his body.
Were his current actions for atonement? Was he helping other people to be self-righteous?
Can’t I do the same thing then?
I can just get rid of this weak little girl inside me and become a knight or a guardian in her stead. Guardians are heroes that save and protect people. If I listen to lectures and become a hero, would everyone look at me in a different light?
The sound of a dimensional contortion woke her up as a blonde-haired woman walked out from a fissure in the air.
She was the witch who brought her here with Chairman Eriu from the east.
“I’ve been leaving you alone because you weren’t leaving the city, but please ask for permission to leave if you want to leave the campus.”
Seeing the silent and unresponsive Hua Ran, Josephine heaved a sigh before opening a new dimension. Hua Ran stood up without retaliating or replying to her.
『Because being born is never a sin.』
『Someone like you shouldn’t have been born!!』
Who is right?
Her sharp eyes looked akin to the vigilant gaze of a wounded beast.
The next day,
Around 400 freshmen were standing at the entrance of the hunting grounds located at the north of the Academy. As its name would suggest, it was a broad and extensive forest that was also sometimes referred to as the Emerald Forest. This place was often opened for the realistic fighting experiences of the students and was a place I had visited quite often myself.
With the expansive woods in the background, Chairman Eriu and Senior Professor Josephine were glancing across the students.
“Good morning everyone. I will make it quick.”
Chairman Eriu’s voice managed to reach the entire group of 400 students without fail.
“Today’s lesson is very simple. It will be a real life practice and experience for everyone.”
It was still early in the morning so there were a few students that were dozing off. Normally, the words of the Chairman were meant to be heard in a sleepy state but this was the Merkarva Academy.
Chairman Eriu suddenly stopped his words as Lady Josephine struck the whip in the air.
I had no idea why it made such a loud slapping noise even though she was swinging it in the air, but in any case, one of the students suddenly rose to the air.
“Student Jaeger Hinzpeter. Sleeping during the lesson. Minus 1 point.”
She soon retrieved her gaze that seemed like a ray of laser beaming through her monocle, and Jaeger fell back on the ground as Chairman Eriu continued his words.
“Today, your survival skills will each be evaluated at the hunting grounds. Your job is to head to the northern end of the forest.”
“Do we just have to head to the end of the forest?”
“Yes. If you arrive at the shed located at the north, you will ‘pass’ the test. But it won’t be easy. Senior Professor?”
In response to Chairman Eriu’s summon, Lady Josephine struck the air with her whip as a large basket dropped in front of the students.
The basket was divided into four, with different-colored armbands inside them.
“Please wear the armband that corresponds to your Grade.”
The students walked up and wore their respective armbands.
“Blue for Grade 2, huh.”
“That looks fancy as well.”
“And it’s also eye-catching.”
It was definitely eye-catching considering how there were only four Grade 2 students. Alicia seemed clueless about how dangerous that would be for her and was grinning to herself after seeing the pretty piece of cloth.
‘Hua Ran… is probably not going to participate.’
There was one girl who stood out the most among the students, who was quietly holding her breath like a beast.
As the one and only Grade 1 Knight among the freshmen, there wasn’t even any armband for her, and even in the previous iteration, Hua Ran had shown an uncooperative attitude to most of the lessons including practical lessons.
She was too overpowered. Although she was weakened because of the seal, most of the other Grade 1s would still be unable to create a single wound on her body.
Even the strongest 2nd year student, Marie, would not be Hua Ran’s match unless she was in her final boss form.
“How does that look? It looks great right?”
“This doesn’t come off that easily. It’s probably not going to come off unless we pull it as hard as we can.”
“What is this even for though?”
After wearing the armbands, the students bragged about it and showed off.
Most of those boasting students were in Grade 3, and the Grade 5 students wearing black armbands were still crest-fallen. Even Lark…
There was actually a competitive spirit in Lark’s eyes. It was a completely different expression compared to how he looked on his first day at the Academy.
It seemed that learning a medium-ranked spell with the grimoire had definitely been a big help for him.
‘He might even pull off a big one here.”
Well, that was up to him though. Let’s wish him good luck considering how close we were now.
“Now, attention. Those armbands are the same as your lives. When that armband comes off, you will be disqualified on the spot.”
Hearing that, the students double-checked their armbands to make sure it was nice and tight.
“You will now move to the hunting grounds. Defeat everything you see on the way, because otherwise, you might be the one that ends up dying.”
The students tensed up upon hearing those scary words, but unlike what his words suggested, there were actually professors in the forest that ensured students would not die an unfortunate death.
Besides, the biggest enemies of this practical lesson weren’t the demonic beasts but students: the senior students who would be waiting in the woods.
“How do we use the armband?”
It was a sharp question and was perhaps the most important of all.
“You can return the armbands that you’ve acquired to the shed at the end of the forest. You will receive points depending on your armbands and the time of your arrival, and those points can be substituted for items.”
This event was an important one that hardcore players would retry time after time because obtaining 100 points, which was an extremely difficult feat, would directly lead to the acquirement of a hidden piece.
The students created a buzz. Quite a lot of them appeared to have noticed that the armbands would each have different points.
Seeing those freshmen students glare at other students like predators while licking their lips, I was once again in awe of how bright the future was for this Academy.
In any case, the reason why the practical lesson at the hunting grounds was so famous for being a tough challenge was because gaining 100 points was absurdly difficult. You had to at least defeat one or two Grade 2 named characters and obtain their armbands. Considering my current level, that was obviously imposs… hold on.
“Wow! What’s going to be the first prize? Is it food?”
Alicia muttered in excitement with her eyes sparkling like stars.
She was the prime example of all brawn and no brain, and currently, she was incapable of properly using both the Eyes of the Boundary and the Domain Severance.
Unlike other named characters whose special abilities were monstrous, she was a purely physical character… It might actually be possible!
Even though my current physique wasn’t even in the realms of a Grade 3 Knight… it should be possible to defeat all the Grade 2 students except for Yuel and Dorron as long as I played around their weaknesses.
Ay, whatever! Either go big or go home!
“Alicia. Did you complete your mission?”
“Mr. Korin! Thank you for your help on the weekend! Thanks to that, I have enough money for the time being.”
“Really? That’s awesome. Oh, right, do you want some candies? It’s way too sweet for me.”
“Hukk…! This is…!”
The packaging which had the drawing of a child-like bee was that of the renowned honey bomb candies which all the girls loved these days including my younger sister. I was carrying a few of them around in case I needed some sugar and wasn’t expecting them to come in handy like this.
“Thanks for the food.”
Alicia didn’t turn them down which was as expected considering how there was a text on the profile back when it was a game that Arden sisters liked honey bomb candies.
– Munch munch.
“Wow, it actually explodes like a bomb inside the mouth and has honey coming out from inside.”
“I bought them for my younger sister, but they’re too sweet. Do you want some more?”
“…I will not turn your kind offer down.”
What she didn’t know was that there was a tiny tracking rune letter engraved on the candy she ate just then.
“Let’s get moving now.”
When it was time, Lady Josephine struck the air with the whip.
It gave off the same sound as usual but the result was completely different.
The afterimage left behind by the whip turned into a cluster of mana that sucked in everything nearby like a black hole.
“I, I’m getting pulled in!”
After being pulled into the black hole, I opened my eyes and found myself in the middle of an expansive forest.
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