After the invitational ended, the Academy could not hide its chaotic atmosphere due to the sudden change in schedule.
The invitational, which would have normally lasted for five days, ended in a hurry in three days, so it was natural in a way.
That's why I thought I would be able to go on with my classes normally for the two days that were floating, but that wasn't the case either.
There were so many external-related matters, and there were many professors and staff who had gone out for various reasons or are absent, so it was difficult to conduct classes normally.
So what happened in the end was to study all day long.
Then, an unexpected decision was made to temporarily close the school for another day.
I was just guessing that there was some movement within the academy regarding the attack at the invitational.
It was also because there were several professors who were certain to be at the academy but were not appointed as supervisors of self-study time.
My professor, Alice Blesbuck, was one of them.
I don't know if it was because I fell asleep early yesterday, or if it was thanks to the root of Mandragora, but I was so refreshed.
I had more than an hour left even after I was ready, but I immediately went out of the dormitory, where I would normally have just laid down.
In the process, I could see Mandragora in the tank making a look as if the sky was collapsing.
It was the first time I realized that he could also change expression.
The first place I went to was none other than the archery club.
Just before the Guild Invitational.
Professor Grossman had given Lee Yu-Na, Jin Ye-Seul, and me a day each for a one-on-one class.
And at that time, what I asked her for was none other than archery.
Of course, unlike the dagger art that had entered the beginner stage, it was only an introductory stage shortly after learning, but it could be said that the room for growth is limitless because of the proficiency skills.
I have to train it whenever I have time like this.
With that in mind, I entered the archery range, which was very quiet, with only ten people shooting arrows.
And among them, I spotted some familiar faces.
It was Ivan and Lee Ye-Eun.
They were sitting in their seats talking about something, which was a strange sight for me.
Was there any chance for them to get close
With that thought in mind, I approached the two of them and greeted them.
"Since when have you two been close"
Ivan's expression answering was that of tiredness.
He looked at Lee Ye-Eun for a moment and then sighed a little.
“Actually yesterday…… My mother was taken care of by the senior.
So I was thanking her and apologizing about that."
“She was an interesting person.”
Lee Ye-Eun nodded with a slightly subtle look.
Seeing that, Ivan rubbed the corners of his eyes with a sign that he was tired.
“The same goes for Ms.
Yu-Na…… I'm glad that the invitational ended sooner...… .”
“So you have been here since morning To get your mind off things"
At my playful words, Ivan nodded with a gloomy look.
I thought his mother was the only one who could make this serious guy look like this.
‘… Well, I'm sure they'll be able to get along well later.’
Belluna, who was now childish and selfish, would eventually achieve mental growth.
She took care of Ivan just out of duty and curiosity, since he was the one who inherited her power, but later, after experiencing an incident where she might lose Ivan, she realized her maternal love and began to care for and love him wholeheartedly.
… Of course, it was a story in the distant future.
“Junior, have you come to practice too”
When I nodded to Lee Ye-Eun, who spoke in a soft voice, she stood up from her seat with a smile.
“Then I’ll give you some guidance.”
“Come on, let's see your skills.”
Lee Ye-Eun said that and gently grabbed me and led me.
And she nodded, handing a carefully selected bow, asking me to shoot.
Honestly, I was a little embarrassed, but after thinking about it, it was a good opportunity.
Calming my embarrassed heart, I took a deep breath to shoot the bow as she asked.
Perhaps it was my imagination, but the target in the distance seemed too small.
After holding the arrow on the string for a while, I fired the bow as it was.
It hit the target, but it only hit the edge.
When I felt embarrassed that I had barely hit the edge of the target, Lee Ye-Eun, who was next to me, gave advice in a serious voice.
It's because of the wind.
Calm down and shoot one more time.
You are doing well.”
I shot another arrow, but it only hit the center a little more than before.
I was so embarrassed that I felt like I had to do something, so when I looked at the status window, the proficiency of archery, which was still at the introductory stage, had barely increased.
Meanwhile, suddenly, Lee Ye-Eun approached me and grabbed my hand holding a bow.
“Excuse me for a moment.”
Lee Ye-Eun, who was in a posture as if she was hugging me from behind, spoke in a stern voice as if scolding me.
She was so serious that I wondered if I was strange.
Fortunately, this did not seem to be the case, as Ivan, who I glanced at, also had a surprised expression on his face.
"It hasn't been long since you've learned the bow, Junior, so it's only natural."
Lee Ye-Eun said, taking my hand holding the bow and moving it slightly.
“Originally, it takes months or even years of practice to hit a target 100 steps away with a bow.
And it takes constant practice and perseverance to maintain the senses.
In contrast, a crossbow takes a day if you have the talent, and a firearm in hours.”
She muttered to herself in a quiet voice.
“Nevertheless, an overwhelming percentage of sniper types choose bows, not because most of them are talented.
Because they know that they can get ahead in the beginning, but in the end, nothing can beat the bow."
And she emphasized by strengthening her voice as if she was reminding me again and again.
“Especially in the World Tree clan, everyone uses a bow.
Sometimes they choose a spear or a sword as their secondary weapon, but the whole clan shoots arrows as they grow up.
Bow, don't forget that this is the identity of our World Tree clan.
The World Tree clan shoots arrows.”
“Uh, yes…… .”
When I nodded and answered awkwardly to her sudden rush, she seemed satisfied and said, 'If so, that's fine.' and held an arrow in her other hand.
“Come on, focus.
As with anything, you have to stick to the basics.”
Saying so, she carefully handed the arrow to my hand.
Then, she put it on a demonstration and pulled it.
She ordered me not to shoot and keep going.
“When you endure the pain of your fingers falling off, and get to the point where you can’t hold your breath anymore, ironically, it is only then that the distant target becomes clearly visible."
As she finished her words, the arrows shot stuck in the center part of the target.
It wasn't right in the center, but it was a huge improvement compared to the two shots I had just shot alone.
“Come on, one more time.”
This time the arrow was a little more centered.
Only then did she let go of me, and told me not to forget.
“Don't forget the basic principles.
And Junior, you put too much strength, but you shouldn't.
Just think of it as a marshmallow in your fist."
She nodded as if I hadn't misheard.
“Don't forget to hold the marshmallow in your hands so lightly that it doesn't get crushed, but still firm enough so that it doesn't fall to the ground.
If you fix that, it will be a lot better.”
Lee Ye-Eun, who had said this far, looked at me and said.
“So, if you have time after today’s class…… .”
Meanwhile, Ivan coughed in vain.
When the eyes of me and Lee Ye-Eun were focused, he pointed to the clock and said.
“Now if we don’t go now, we will be late.
It's good to focus on the bow, but don't forget the more important fact that we have class today."
He added quietly, but as if to be careful.
“And it’s not just the two of you here.”
Only then did Lee Ye-Eun notice that the eyes around her were focused.
And when Lee Ye-Eun realized that most of them had a surprised expression on their faces while looking at her, her face turned red as if it was about to explode.
* * *
There was nothing special during self-study time.
The professor, who we saw for the first time came in and left immediately, telling us not to talk and study what we wanted to do, and, of course, the students sat together in twos and threes and started talking lightly.
And, as always, Cho Hyun-Woo, Han Soo-Young, and I sat together like this.
As soon as I saw their faces, the words I spoke out were related to their master, Nam Hyun-Hwa.
“Did she return safely”
"Yes, I contacted her yesterday."
Choi Hyun-Woo muttered with an expression full of affection.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve seen her, but it’s a little sad.
Because the invitational event ended suddenly...… .”
"There's nothing we can do about it.
Because it was a mess.
Still, I'm glad to see her in person after a long time."
At Han Soo-Young's words, he nodded.
Their master was actually a person many people expected to be a hidden mastermind*.
That's because in the original story, she did not come out with any hidden facts or detailed records.
In a way, it was also a real twist in that she was one of the strongest in the past and sincerely raised and taught the two.
‘… And later died trying to protect the two.’
It was such a memorable scene that it remained vivid in my memory.
Nam Hyun-Hwa, who appeared to save the two who encountered the Red Case boss, sacrificed her life to save them.
In fact, it was inevitable.
No matter how she was strong enough to be the Ten, dealing with the Seven Evils alone was like suicide.
‘… That's right.'
There are two Seven Evils that have been released from their seals and are currently wandering around.
One devoured the Red Case from within, and the other is secretly working with the head of the Thorns Cross Society.
Originally, these two would be the last to appear, and until a few days ago, I firmly believed that.
Since they appear at the end, I thought I should pay attention to the Seven Evils, who appear first before them.
It was a moment when I realized how ignorant I was in the past.
As I felt my mood sinking for no reason, I saw Choi Hyun-Woo looking at me.
Not only Choi Hyun-Woo but Han Soo-Young as well.
What the hell have I done wrong that they are looking at me
Do they think I'm feeling complicated seeing their family, Nam Hyun-Hwa, come
When I thought this far, I fully understood why these two were like that.
It was when I was feeling awkward as it seemed to have sunk the mood for no reason.
Han Soo-Young said, clapping with excessive movements.
"I heard that he hasn't come out of the training ground since that day.”
“Who is he”
“Who, the one Hyun-Woo fought.”
“Honestly, I was shocked.
I thought he was going to make a mess considering his usual personality....… .”
It was not difficult to notice that it was about Ahn Do-Hoon.
It was also the way the original story went, that whichever side won, the losing side would push for more training.
The difference was that Choi Hyun-Woo conformed to the results and felt he was lacking in himself, and Ahn Do-Hoon could not forgive himself and devote himself to training as if it were self-discipline.
Either way, the fact that this defeat served as an opportunity for them to grow remained unchanged.
Since the talk came out, I wanted to tell these two.
“I’m going to apply for sick leave for about a week.”
"What Why all of a sudden"
I answered Choi Hyun-Woo's question vaguely.
“Just for personal reasons.”
“Then what about class”
"What can I do I'm just going to be absent.”
When I answered with a light smile, Han Soo-Young pursed her lips and seemed to be contemplating something.
“… Then I'll take notes for you.
After all, we're in the same team member for dungeon exploration.”
"I'll be thankful if you do that."
"But why all of a sudden…… .”
It was then.
The moment Han Soo-Young asked, the door opened and the professor came in.
We quickly straightened our postures, as if to ask when we had spoken.
I could feel Han Soo-young staring at me, but I had no time to understand why she was suddenly doing that.
* * *
“Today is really something.”
I'm just saying.”
It was the first word I uttered as if complaining when I accidentally met Jin Ye-Seul while I was on my way to see Professor Blesbuck.
I wondered if she was aiming for it, but seeing the surprised expression on her face and running towards me, it seemed that Jin Ye-Seul had never expected it.
“Where were you going”
Jin Ye-Seul covered her mouth with one hand and nodded her head as if she understood.
“Right, why did you send the daggers”
At my sudden question, she put on a rare bewildered expression.
“Oh, you didn’t like it…… Um, um! No, you don't like it But, it was the best thing I could get...
“No, it’s not that I don’t like it.”
What should I say
As I was struggling with this, Jin Ye-Seul was looking at me like a child looking at her parents' eyes.
When my eyes met Jin Ye-Seul, she was startled, and she told me as if she were confessing her fault before a child was scolded.
“Ah, I haven’t been able to properly gather the information yet…… There were so many people that day, and there are many things with enhanced security, so if you wait a little...… .”
I shut up because I thought it would be useless to say more.
Then, with an uneasy look on my face, I spoke to her, who was fidgeting, as if taking a vow.
“Don’t send anything like that anymore.
It's too much.
Do you understand"
Jin Ye-Seul quickly nodded.
I let out a small sigh as I watched her concentrate on what I was going to say.
If I tell her, it seems she will become more extreme, but a promise is a promise.
“Look carefully at the antique shops on Five Street.
It's an unusual bird statue, and if you find it, you'll get what you want."
“It’s a clue to the legacy.
Anyway, it's because you did well as promised.
And I'm busy, so excuse me first."
With those words, I passed Jin Ye-Seul, who was standing blankly.
And I was surprised when I saw Jin Ye-Seul still standing there blankly until I came back to do my later chores, but it was okay.
*[Note: '흑막'- someone who controls the situation or people secretly.]