༺ Hua Ran (2) ༻
“Student Hua Ran is in confinement.”
The first thing I heard after coming back from the group event was that Hua Ran had been confined because of an incident during the individual event.
Fortunately, there weren’t any casualties but the problem was that there were a few people there who knew about the restrictions cast on Hua Ran.
One of them was Bishop Renault Lusignan, who had been dispatched from the great chapel of Xeruem of the Old Faith.
He criticized them, saying that the restrictions put on Hua Ran, which they were so confident in, had been easily broken due to her violent nature.
Strictly speaking, the restrictions did work properly. The constraints cast on Hua Ran consisted of the talismans that settled her mind, and the article of the New Faith, ‘Chains of Zeon’, that devoured and enhanced the restriction if Hua Ran was to go berserk.
Even though the talismans ended up being scorched because of her immense aura, the chains had done a remarkable job.
“The fact that one of the constraints broke was enough fault for them to nitpick on.”
“Depends on how you view it I guess.”
However, their justification was still weak, so they sent her to Kang Ryun under the pretext of recreating those talismans.
I couldn’t make it in time due to the group event schedule. I guess this was another butterfly effect of what I did.
My original plan was to do something before they could apply the talisman but…
Well, whatever. I knew this would happen. After experiencing Marie’s incident and the Tornado Bat incident back to back, I wholeheartedly realized that you always needed a Plan B.
“When are they going to reattach the talismans?”
“They said they need time to supply materials and create the new restricting talismans at a workshop. There was a request to move Hua Ran over to that place.”
That was a lie.
They should be done preparing their talismans. Was it postponed because of the articles I stole? Were they trying to put an end to it inside the Evil Extermination Formation?
Whatever the case, they were probably trying to do something before using Hua Ran as the ‘core’ in the group event.
I couldn’t let them go that far without doing anything. I had to do something to Hua Ran before that as well but…
“Can I visit Hua Ran?”
“Unfortunately, the Templar Knights of the Old Faith are watching over her.”
Being stopped by Templar Knights? As expected, they were making a bold political move, but well, that was also within the scope of expectation.
That was when Chairman Eriu who had been quietly watching until now… or rather, Master Erin, walked up to me.
“How many things are you aware of, Student Korin?”
She must have realized that I was hiding something, but that was nothing unusual considering her insight.
“Well, I know most of the things I need to know.”
“…As for this incident, we couldn’t stop the confinement of Student Hua Ran but we could have dealt with it ourselves.”
“Even though Merkarva was being interrogated as the one responsible for it, I’m sure it would have been possible if you were coercive about it.”
That wasn’t a very good idea though. It was my master Erin, who had to overstep her boundaries to bring the demon behind the Moonlight Castle incident into the Academy. She took Hua Ran in as a student while saying that she was safe thanks to the restriction, and yet this was what happened.
What would they say if Merkarva were to try to protect Hua Ran in a situation like that?
“I am aware of the risk, but we would have undoubtedly been able to protect Student Hua Ran at least.”
There was something I knew, which both Josephine and Master Erin were also aware of; it was that Professor Kang Ryun of Purple Hawk and the Old Faith had been up to something behind our backs.
Hua Ran had gone berserk during the very fight against the Trampling Warhound, Sa Jinhyuk, after entering the festival as requested by Bishop Renault.
It was way too coincidental that it was suspicious. That was all the more the case because we were already looking at them with suspicion.
Under the pretext of recreating the talismans, they asked for the momentary control of Hua Ran and were definitely scheming something.
“Student Korin. Are we looking at the same destination, I wonder?”
“I am 100% sure. We are aiming at the same place.”
“If so, then why do we have to shoulder so much risk?”
I knew what she was suspicious about. It was I who requested master and Lady Josephine, that they monitor them for the time being without doing anything.
Although controlling every little thing within the process was difficult, the end result had to be the best one that I was thinking of. For that, there was the need to go through a few processes.
Since my master wasn’t aware of what I was thinking, it was natural for her to be suspicious. She might even be doubting that I was the type of person who would undertake dirty measures as long as it led to a good outcome.
I knew better than anyone how I was not a perfect person. Because of my sloppy actions, it might lead to a worse outcome than the last iteration.
But at least for now, I won’t doubt my actions because this path that I chose was definitely not wrong at the very least.
“The outcome I’m dreaming of has everyone included, with not a single person missing.”
※ Difficulty: A+
※ Achievement Condition: Fails upon the eradication of Hua / Fails upon the eradication of Ran
The future I’m aspiring for needs to include both Hua and Ran, as well as you, master.
The boss of the 3rd Arc of ❰Heroic Legends of Arhan❱, Heavenly Yaksha, had a slightly different background to all the bosses that appeared before it.
Based on the affection meter with the character and the choices leading to the 3rd Arc, the player was forced to choose between 2 choices.
Would you save Hua, or would you save Ran?
It was disgustingly annoying, but I couldn’t deny that it was an effective device in adding weight to the story and increasing game playtime. Because of these turning points and choices inside the game, there were multiple users who played the game several times.
In one of the forums of ❰Heroic Legends of Arhan❱ that only had veteran gamers, there were oftentimes several discussions of ‘what ifs’ and how the player could have overcome those options to lead the story into the happiest ending possible.
That was a discussion about the background setting of the story, which was thus impossible to prove in the game.
‘Honestly, the easiest option would be to choose a single one like it was a game like Park Sihu.’
Whichever option you chose, there would only be 1 sacrifice. It was an efficient method where you simply had to sacrifice one of them.
But as I’ve said before.
I was not interested in efficiency.
On the second day after returning from the group event, all the group event attendants were given breaks and were allowed to take a rest from lectures. Because there were a few people in the group that were participating in either the individual or the doubles event, it was a measure for those students to take a good rest and wash out the fatigue built at Nazrea.
“Korin! This way!”
An amicable girl with water-colored hair hopped across the streets while grabbing me with her small hand. The facilities in the internal streets of the Academy were in a festival mood, befitting the name of the event itself.
“Korin! Should we get some hash browns?”
“No. We eat that every day. The number of potatoes I grated would probably add up to a warehouse.”
“I, I don’t think it was that much!”
“What if we add the potatoes you grated with me on top of that?”
Seriously, what was I supposed to do with this potato-loving princess of the Potato Empire?
“It’s a special day so let’s go have some of those chicken skewers or that beef skewer over there that’s 1 silver coin each. But like… 1 silver coin per skewer?”
They were targeting tourists but that was still too much! Speaking of targeting tourists…
“Senior. How are the stalls placed in front of our hotel going?”
– Munch munch
“Oh that– cough cough!”
“Ah. I’m telling you you should stop having so many potatoes.”
She choked on potatoes so I gave her a drink. Even though we were at the festival, she was still buying a tornado potato… Wait, they have a tornado potato? No wonder I don’t feel homesick…
“Ugh. Thank you. I received the overall report for the stalls just yesterday.”
“Ohh. How big is the profit?”
– Whisper whisper!
– Nod nod!
“Ah… Finally, a day like this comes to me as well!”
“Hehe. Seeing you happy makes me happy too.”
After the construction of the hotel, we placed more than 100 people from Purple Hawk in there, and installed a bunch of stalls on the street in front of it.
We used the ingredient supplies straight from the Dunareff Family, and hired some part-timers to make some cheap skewers with cheap sauces to sell at 3 times the market price.
Too expensive? C’mon, we’re targeting tourists!!
Those guys from Purple Hawk came from a different continent and didn’t know much about the market prices on our side. And besides, it’s not like they were tremendously expensive, and different prices in trivial things like snacks were very hard to notice.
“Senior! I will buy you anything you want today! Do whatever you want!”
Both Marie and I didn’t have anything else to do today, so we should be able to play to our heart’s content, but most importantly, I was here because there was something to buy from these stalls.
“Korin! Look! It’s a throw-a-manastone!”
“Let’s hurry up and try it!”
Found it. As expected, it was here again this year.
Some merchants were running mini-games between the food stalls. We had already done some whac-a-horned-rat, which was this world’s version of whac-a-mole for knights, and had thrown some mana darts, but this throw-a-manastone was a bit unique.
“Korin. Do you know how to play this game?”
“It’s my first time seeing it.”
“I can explain the rules to you!”
I saw it in the last iteration so I didn’t count that. Besides, Marie seemed eager to explain the rules so I thought I might as well give her the chance.
“Uncle! Give us some manastones please!”
“Oh, you’re a gorgeous lady! I’ll give you one extra.”
After giving the owner a silver coin, Marie received a plate with 6 finger-sized stones.
– Uncle. Why didn’t you give me an extra one?
– Buddy. We have a mirror right there.
“Look, Korin. These are chunks of manastones that were deemed faulty at the mines. Touch them. They’re soft right?”
“Oh. You’re right.”
Well, her fingers were actually softer than the faulty stones though.
“Aren’t these stones? Is it okay for them to be this soft?”
“Usually, they’re not, but manastones absorb mana easily so it’s easy for their attributes to change. That’s also why we use them often when making staves.”
Marie said while tapping her jade-like staff, telling me that there was also a manastone inside her staff.
“But if they are this soft, they explode easily. Look!”
As soon as Marie added mana into the stone, it rapidly began to brighten up and expand in size as if it was going to explode any time soon.
“You have to throw it before it explodes!”
She skilfully threw the inflating manastone at the target.
The manastone popped with a loud burst of noise like popcorn in a microwave. Because of its soft texture, the explosion resembled that of a water balloon rather than a grenade as it splattered mana into its surroundings.
“Hoh… 80 points. Looks like you’re quite good at this, Miss!”
The manastone thrown by Marie had a very minuscule amount of explosion range, and the remains of her mana did not escape the boundary of the target.
It was like a game of hit-the-target with water balloons. Throw-a-manastone was about how accurately and powerfully you could hit the target, while trying to make sure the remains of the mana wouldn’t leave the target area.
Well, it was a mini-game with those settings that was playable in the game where the explosion range of the bomb would either increase or decrease depending on the accuracy adjustment level of the character.
The interesting thing about this… was that the ones thrown by Park Sihu and me in the last iteration had different effects.
“Let me try it.”
I added mana to the manastone I received from Marie.
“Korin! It’s about to explode! Hurry up and throw it!”
“Come on buddy! Throw it quick!”
Despite the rushing voices of Marie and the boss, I continued concentrating my mana into it. Like a water bomb with too much water, the manastone continued expanding in size.
I then tossed it using my fingers. The skills that I gained through my javelin and stone-throwing experiences meant my accuracy was close to 100% in a small mini-game court like this.
The manastone popped right in front of the target. Even though I put in a lot more mana than Marie, the range of the explosion was even smaller than hers.
“9, 95 points…”
Good. This much was good enough. Even though I was just a sub-player, it seemed that I was still receiving the accuracy adjustment of the system.
The explosion range of the ‘festival-use faulty manastones’ would decrease with higher accuracy, and the explosion range would expand the lower your accuracy rating was. Using this feature, some people even put on all sorts of debuff items and spells to create ‘0% accuracy’ and increase the explosion range to 100 meters.
Seriously, gamers have nothing better to do, do they? And yes, that’s right. I had nothing better to do.
“Sell all these manastones here to me.”
“I’ll give you twice the money.”
I took out a purse of gold coins on the spot and handed it over to the boss.
“Korin. Why did you buy all that?”
“They’ll come in handy one day. And Senior Marie, you said you had to see Ferghus that old man before your individual event, right?”
“Nn! I have to get my staff and my protective robe repaired.”
“Tell him Korin Lork is calling him, and make him come looking for me right away. He has work to do.”
“Oh right, and also, the one taking care of carriage transportation in Merkarva is one of the companies under Dunareff right?”
“Yes. What about it though?”
“Can you get me the timetable for carriages?”
Marie squinted her eyes after hearing my consecutive requests.
“Are you scheming something strange again?”
“Huhu. How did you figure it out?”
“I can look at your face and see everything~!”
“It is time for ‘him’ to come back.”
She blinked her eyes in puzzlement.
Hua Ran slowly lifted her head and looked at her three visitors.
Kang Ryun, Kang Yuhua, Sa Jinhyuk.
The reason the three people from Purple Hawk Academy were here was to move her to a hotel in the outskirts of the city.
With her body tightly bound up in ‘Chains of Zeon’, she had to go through a humiliating experience where Sa Jinhyuk carried her on his shoulder.
The pretext was that Kang Ryun would be making talismans in his workshop that could act as replacements for the ones that used to be sealing her.
Talismans made to restrict the movement of a jiangshi required the use of several special materials.
A yellow paper made with a mix of a jiangshi’s skin, and ink made with the blood of a black dog. On top of that, the spiritualist had to write a letter on the talisman and cast a spell, so even the first-rate spiritualists had to do it with care under the best conditions.
However, he was far away from his actual workshop, so while renting a hotel at the outskirts of the city for the students, Kang Ryun had created a temporary workshop there in preparation for the formation that he would be using in the upcoming group event.
He was trying to take Hua Ran to that temporary workshop using the excuse that he needed to carry out the restricting ritual there after gathering the right materials.
“Get on the carriage,” said Kang Ryun as Sa Jinhyuk got on the carriage with Hua Ran on his shoulder.
Kang Yuhua and Kang Ryun got on after him.
That was when Yuhua suddenly grabbed the chained and immobilized Hua Ran by the chin and opened her mouth, as Kang Ryun tossed something inside.
By the time Hua Ran realized that it was a piece of wood, her insides started burning from pain. Her body turned powerless and lethargic, like the time when she was ‘ordered to stay still’.
The chains that were restricting every one of her limbs loosened up and started gently resting on her body.
Because of her neutralization, the chains didn’t even have enough aura to absorb.
Seeing that Hua Ran had been immediately neutralized, Jinhyuk curiously asked Kang Ryun.
“What was that thing just then, master?”
“A wooden board made by cutting a peach tree. It is the natural enemy of jiangshis.”
Can I kill it now then? That was what his eyes were suggesting but after reading that thought of his, Kang Ryun turned to him with a sharp glare.
“Don’t even think about it. Even the peach tree is only going to lead to symptoms of a flu for a jiangshi of this level. Do not look down on jiangshis that have reached the status of a ‘Heavenly Yaksha’. It’s possible for them to turn into a ‘Hou’1Hou: A mythical creature that looks similar to xiezhi, haetae and komainu. But unlike the positive notion behind those creatures, a Hou is the evolved version of a jiangshi (Not sure how) that eats humans. at any moment. They might become monsters that are even worse than dragons.”
“Hyuk, remember. Our goal is to take that wicked thing away from Ran, and not kill her,” reminded Yuhua.
“I know I know.”
Yuhua said to Jinhyuk, but Hua Ran was the one who reacted the most. She asked with a pale face.
“What do you… mean by that?”
“It is as we said, Hua. Uncle Kang Ryun will rip you away from Ran’s body.”
“I, if you do that…!”
“You will definitely be eradicated after losing your body, or turn into a demonic spirit at best.”
“T, this body…!”
“It is clearly not yours. Don’t you know that yourself?”
Facing Hua Ran who was now sweating profusely due to consuming a part of a peach tree, Yuhua replied with a glare that contained not a hint of her usual gentleness.
“We will retrieve Ran from you. Do you think you have the right to obtain that body as the one who killed countless poor souls?”
Hua Ran was still hesitating about her response as the carriage approached the walls.
“Master. We are almost there.”
“Right. Let’s quickly go to the workshop and deal with—!!”
– Dung dududu dung dung! Dung dung!
– U, uaahkk! What the heckk!
The driver driving the carriage yelled as a massive carriage suddenly drove into the one carrying Kang Ryun and his group.
– Kajik! Kajijijik!
The two carriages crashed into each other at full force, and the one that collapsed with a deafening thud was the one carrying Kang Ryun.
“That’s right! Boss, what do we do now?”
“Huhahahaha! Take everything valuable!”
It was the typical line of bandits, but after an eye contact with the leader of the bandits behind the opened doors, Hua Ran couldn’t help but widen her eyes.
The man had red eyes and a characteristic ponytail. Even though he was wearing a mask, there was no way she could mistake him as someone else.
“Oi oi! We have a bishoujo2Bishoujo: Originally 미소녀 [Misonyeo]. Literally means ‘pretty girl’, but it’s not a word used often in Korean, and is heavily influenced by Japanese culture so I translated it to bishoujo considering the playful tone of his remark.’ here!”
“We’re in luck today! Boys! We’re taking this girl with us!”
The masked man quickly picked up Hua Ran and left the collapsed carriage.
After quickly coming to himself, Kang Ryun called his two disciples and the two warriors quickly jumped out of the fallen carriage to chase after the bandits, but—
Water Bombs had been installed in front of their path and the overwhelming pressure of water bounced the two back.
“Kuhk… a mage? Hyuk! Find out where the mage…!”
“They’re on one of the roofs! I don’t know which building they’re in! First, we have to hurry up and take that bitch…!”
Before the two could come up with their next course of action, a crimson barrier appeared around them and the Blood Realm successfully separated the three of them from the mounted bandits.
They did not know what it was. Since it belonged to a vampire, which was already unique among demi-humans, and since a Blood Realm was a skill that could only be used by Vampire Elders and above, they were bound to be unfamiliar with the ability.
“Huhahaha! A successful operation, boss!”
“This much is enough! Let’s go!”
That was the mighty return of Immortan Lork.
Marie, who helped Korin by isolating the three people from Purple Hawk with her Blood Realm, was caught off guard by the unexpected turn of events.
“Wasn’t expecting… someone to be able to break the Blood Realm…”
Her original plan was to lock them inside for at least 1 hour, but the three had done something to the barrier.
To be exact, it was Kang Ryun who did something.
He unfolded his fan with a flick as an article of a tortoise with a snake head on its tail and an article of a white tiger floated out by themselves, as they then created a small hole on the barrier.
“I will go find them for sure.”
Marie quickly repaired her Blood Realm in surprise but Kang Yuhua was able to escape from the barrier using that short moment.
She couldn’t do anything else here, because Korin had made it exceptionally clear that she couldn’t openly do anything to them.
‘Korin… Be careful.’
“What was that?”
After hearing an urgent report from one of the security officers of Merkarva, Josephine asked with a dumbfounded look on her face.
“A, a student has been kidnapped!”
“…Which student, and by who?”
“About 5 minutes ago, a group of mysterious mounted bandits attacked the carriage carrying the VIPs of Purple Hawk, and kidnapped a student called Hua Ran!”
Josephine sent the security officer away and collapsed onto the seat of the Senior Professor’s office.
“What the hell is he doing?”
That was her first time swearing in the last 35 years.
You can rate this series here.
- 1Hou: A mythical creature that looks similar to xiezhi, haetae and komainu. But unlike the positive notion behind those creatures, a Hou is the evolved version of a jiangshi (Not sure how) that eats humans.
- 2Bishoujo: Originally 미소녀 [Misonyeo]. Literally means ‘pretty girl’, but it’s not a word used often in Korean, and is heavily influenced by Japanese culture so I translated it to bishoujo considering the playful tone of his remark.