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Rachel and I were walking through this road together.
'D' denoted that this road led to a Dungeon, '3' denoted that it was opened third, and 'C' denoted that the Dungeon had been conquered.
On the tunnel walls were lists of monsters from the Dungeon and Heroes who likely partic.i.p.ated in the conquering of the Dungeon.
"…It feels like I'm in an aquarium."
The transparent walls revealed a beautiful ocean view.
We were about 75 meters under sea level, which was too shallow for monsters above intermediate rank to live. As a result, the monsters I occasionally saw were all at the level of being cute.
I didn't find the view too appealing, so I just continued walking forward.
After a while, I found that Rachel had disappeared.
Wondering where she went, I turned around.
Rachel was far behind me, stuck to the transparent wall, observing a school of fish. Her ocean-colored eyes sparkled like emeralds.
I sneaked back to where she was.
Pretending to look at the school of fish, I rummaged through my jacket.
The bracelet clinked in my hand.
How should I give it to her?
Would giving it now be too random? I had little experience giving presents, so I wasn't sure.
Also, what was I supposed to say?
I picked it up on my way here… was too weird..
Thank you for everything until now… made it sound it like I going away forever.
It will help your development… made me sound like a scammer selling a product.
At that moment, Rachel let out an exclamation of awe like a child. I followed her line of sight.
Beyond the tunnel walls, a school of tiny fish were swimming in a line, forming a giant blob the size of a whale.
"Right? Korea is the only country with an underwater tunnel of this size!"
Rachel explained excitedly.
"Is that so?"
"Yes! I know because I read many research papers on underground tunnels."
Research papers and Rachel. It would be hard to name a better duo.
"I had to work hard to understand those research papers since they were in Korean…. Now that I'm looking at the real thing, it's even more amazing."
In the world I used to live, research papers were mostly in English.
But in this world, from college graduation thesis papers to academic symposiums, most were written in Korean. It was the result of Korean being a shared language throughout the entire world.
"Yes, because reading translated versions often leads to loss in meaning."
"Ah, I see, translated versions… right, I'm grateful that Korean is my first language."
I couldn't help but chuckle as I said that. English was the subject I bombed on the College Scholastic Ability Test. I remembered regretting not going to additional English cla.s.ses.
"I'm jealous. Ah, apparently, English was the shared language before Outcall. Isn't that interesting?"
"Wow, look! There's a shark… ah, a baby shark!"
This princess seemed to love the ocean, as she stared in awe at the tiny shark swimming by.
Regardless, this felt like the perfect moment.
With the vast ocean spread out around us, watching the scenery from inside the tunnel…
I drew a deep breath.
Rachel turned her eyes from the baby shark to me.
Smiling awkwardly, I took out the bracelet I prepared from my pocket. Inside its platinum outer sh.e.l.l was the sealed b.u.t.terfly Seedling Dust.
"This might be too sudden… but it looked like the perfect opportunity."
However, Rachel only stared at me blankly. She didn't say anything, and she didn't try to take the bracelet either.
I muttered the excuse I prepared beforehand.
"So, about this. Remember how you helped me a lot before as the team captain? Everyone chipped in to buy this bracelet, so don't misunderstand."
Rachel still didn't say anything.
A second that felt like ten seconds pa.s.sed by. I suddenly felt dizzy.
I held up the bracelet on my right hand, and held up Rachel's wrist with the other. Then, I forced the bracelet on her.
I put the bracelet on. Now, once she unleashed her magic power, the b.u.t.terfly Seedling Dust would seep into her body on its own.
I breathed a sigh of relief, while Rachel silently looked back and forth between me and the bracelet. She stared at me with a sorrowful look, then dropped her head.
Her lips wriggled like she was about to say something. It was then…
A sudden vibration shook the tunnel, and all the lights flickered off.
In the blink of an eye, we were surrounded by complete darkness.
I quickly took out the Desert Eagle, and Rachel also pulled out her rapier.
Soon, we could hear footsteps ring out. I turned to the direction of the sound. However, not even my Thousand-Mile Eyes could catch a glimpse of the source.
[You're with a companion.]
A dark voice rang out. However, I couldn't quite understand what he was saying. I could tell that he was speaking in English, with a British accent.
But because of this, I could easily determine who it was.
Rachel's face stiffened.
[Don't worry. I'm only here to talk. Because I watched something amusing today, I'm not really in the mood to fight.]
I could only understand the first half of his sentence. That he was only here to talk.
As soon as Lancaster muttered this word, a corpse suddenly dropped down from the sky. The corpse was bloodied from head to toe, and its limbs were twisted in the strangest ways.
"Whoa! The f.u.c.k is this!?"
Startled, I cursed subconsciously. Rachel also seemed shocked. Her widened eyes turned toward me.
I coughed awkwardly.
Then, we turned our focus on Lancaster.
[That person is an agent who has been guarding you from the shadows.]
[Princess, I am always watching you. I want you to know that.]
After that, Lancaster's voice disappeared.
I struggled to comprehend this mind-numbing situation.
I expected Lancaster to appear, but I didn't remember anything like this.
He should have sent a few a.s.sa.s.sins, making Rachel who awakened her ability defeat them and saying, 'my goal today was only to scare you—'
But what the h.e.l.l was he chucking around a corpse?
Just like Lancaster said, there were no other threats, and the lights soon came back on.
The tunnel was lit once again.
However, the corpse that made us jump was nowhere to be seen.
"Where did the corpse go?"
I muttered in a daze. Then, Rachel tapped on my shoulder.
"Hajin-ssi, let's… go outside."
We began to walk back with our guards up.
Because of the eerie and chilling atmosphere, I got gooseb.u.mps on my arms.
Rachel glanced at me and asked.
"Are you okay?"
"Yes? Ah, of course. I was just surprised. So who was that?"
"Um… I… I will tell you later."
We came out to the main tunnel.
Everyone else was already back and was in serious conversation.
"Hajin, come here."
Kim Suho found me and called me over.
"…What's up with them? Um, hold on."
I left Rachel behind and ran up to Kim Suho.
"Hajin, you see…."
Kim Suho told me that Chae Jinyoon showed signs of awakening and that Chae Nayun left running to meet him.
The moment I heard this… I blacked out.
When I woke up, I was running somewhere.
I ran to Daehyun's VIP-only hospital. I would have gone there on my bike, but I left it home today. As a result, I took Busan Portal Station and ran all the way to Daehyun's VIP hospital in Seoul.
After running like the wind, I arrived in front of the hospital.
My heart was screaming out in pain, while my lungs were seemingly about to burst.
As I was catching my breath, a familiar voice rang out.
"You heard the news?"
Startled, I turned around.
As I thought, the familiar voice belonged to Yoo Yeonha.
She also seemed to have come in a hurry, but her appearance wasn't shaken up in the slightest.
"Yeah, you too?"
"Yes. I have the duty to partic.i.p.ate in all important matters related to the Chae clan. But why did you run over in such a hurry?"
Without answering her, I glared at the hospital.
With the Book of Truth, I predicted that the Devil's Seed would sprout in January. Since it was still October, it could be said that there was time.
However, I had forgotten about one thing.
That was the possibility of Chae Jinyoon waking up before the sprouting of the Devil's Seed.
If this were to happen, things would only get more complicated. It didn't take a genius to figure out that killing an unconscious patient was significantly easier than killing a conscious patient who was walking around.
Suddenly, a piece of cloth touched my forehead.
Looking up startled, I saw that Yoo Yeonha was right in front of me.
"Why are you sweating so much? Are you that worried?"
With her soft handkerchief, Yoo Yeonha personally wiped off my sweat.
I looked down, wondering why we were at a perfect eye-level. She was wearing kill-heels.
"…Done. Here, you can have this."
Yoo Yeonha gave the handkerchief to me.
Looking at the handkerchief drenched in sweat, I was surprised.
"Uh, yeah… thanks."
I took the handkerchief and looked back up at the hospital.
A deep sigh came out subconsciously.
"He didn't wake up yet, but showed signs of doing so. It's not something to make such a big deal out of."
Yoo Yeonha answered what I was wondering.
'I see… that's great.'
I turned back.
"Eh? You're going back already? Don't you want to see Nayun?"
Yoo Yeonha sounded surprised. I retorted as I walked forward.
"No, I don't think I belong here."
I moved my legs slowly.
I only ran for a little while, but my body and mind were drowsy.
Was this what mental exhaustion felt like?
The moment I breathed out another deep sigh… my smart.w.a.tch rang with another message.
[Little Apprentice, I got the alert that you got yoru item.]
[Your. So when are you goign to take on your next misson?]
It was from Boss.
I realized once again.
She was… the only rope I could grab onto.
Clenching my teeth, I wrote back immediately.
[I can start tomorrow.]
Watching Kim Hajin's figure slowly disappear, Yoo Yeonha thought about what he said.
—I don't think I belong here.
"Pft. It sounds like a line from a drama. I don't think I belong here~"
As she was murmuring in a deep voice and playing around, she received a message on her smart.w.a.tch.
[Yeonha, I'm heading over right now. Is Nayun doing okay?]
The sender was Kim Suho.
[I haven't even met….
While she was typing up the reply thoughtlessly, she suddenly came to a realization.
"…Did he leave to make room for Kim Suho?"
Kim Suho and Chae Nayun.
Everyone knew that Chae Nayun had favorable feelings for Kim Suho. It was because Chae Nayun clearly acted different than her usual self in front of Kim Suho.
Indeed, if Kim Hajin wasn't dense, he would have realized that Chae Nayun liked Kim Suho.
Yoo Yeonha half-heartedly replied, [not yet—], and went into the hospital.
No, she was about to walk into the hospital.
But before she could, Chae Nayun trudged out from the entrance.
She seemed to have aged by 5 years on the outside, but had a faint smile on her face.
Yoo Yeonha raised her hand.
Chae Nayun saw Yoo Yeonha and scurried up to her with a bright smile. Currently, she desperately needed someone to talk to.
Chae Nayun and Yoo Yeonha sat down on a nearby bench.
Yoo Yeonha then asked carefully.
"How's… the situation?"
"He's still uncon… I don't know. Um, the doctor said that the graph is spiking up and down. He chased me out, saying that Oppa needed to rest."
Yoo Yeonha understood what Chae Nayun was implying.
"That's a good thing, right?"
"Yeah. There were apparently other cases like this, and those patients all woke up within three months."
Chae Nayun then put her hands over her chest.
"I feel like my heart is about to jump out of my body. How embarra.s.sing… I shouldn't cry…"
Chae Nayun lived the past five years of her life thinking that Chae Jinyoon would never wake up.
Her pent-up sorrow and struggles seemed to have overflown as she clenched her teeth and cupped her hands over her face.
Soon, her true feelings came out in the form of sobbing and tears. Chae Nayun cried, trembling with her whole body. Her tears should be tears of happiness, but for some reason, it was sad and pitiful.
Yoo Yeonha tapped on her back without saying anything.
Frankly, Yoo Yeonha had no way of empathizing with Chae Nayun's story. Although Yoo Yeonha's father was a bit obsessive and her mother was overflowing with ambition, it was a happy family nonetheless.
However, Chae Jinyoon had been in a coma for 5 years with no sign of awakening.
The pa.s.sing time could only have turned rage into sadness, sadness into frustration, frustration into despair, and despair into resignation.
But, just when all hope was lost, the possibility of returning alive had resurfaced.
A family member who was thought to be lost forever was potentially coming back.
Yoo Yeonha couldn't even imagine what Chae Nayun was feeling.
"Ah, hic… Ah, hic, my chest hurts."
Once Chae Nayun's crying died down a little, Yoo Yeonha spoke.
"Oh right, Nayun, apparently Kim Suho is going to come soon. That person already came by."
"…Kim Hajin came too?"
Yoo Yeonha pictured Kim Hajin who she just met. He looked like he was about to cry and was drenched in sweat from head to toe.
"He was here even before me. He was covered in sweat."
Chae Nayun slowly looked around with an odd face. It was almost as though she was trying to find someone hiding.
"But he already left."
"I don't know."
Yoo Yeonha made a mischievous smile.
"Maybe he yielded the seat to Kim Suho."
"…What do you mean?"
"Don't you like him? Kim Suho, I mean."
Immediately, Chae Nayun's face stiffened. Right when she was about to say something, Yoo Yeonha turned her body slightly.
"Or maybe you liked him?"
"…N-No, it's neither. W-What are you talking about?"
"Really~? That's not how I saw it~"
Yoo Yeonha smirked and teased Chae Nayun. However, she seemed to have lost all her energy from crying as she didn't react much.
It was then.
They felt the presence of people running toward them.
Yoo Yeonha and Chae Nayun simultaneously turned their heads sideways.
There, they saw Kim Suho, Yun Seung-Ah, and even s.h.i.+n Jonghak.