It is one of the academies that nurtures the next generation of heroes to fight against monsters, villains, and other disasters.
Located in South Korea, it has the highest status of all the academies in the world and was the main background of 'Clouds on the Horizon'.
To enter the academy, one had to prove one's background, talent, and ability.
Like years of education at the academy's affiliated academy from a young age.
Or enough talent to have made contacts and sent contacts to the government, guilds, and corporations early on.
Or even more, abilities were required.
'And as I am now, I can't get into the academy in any way.'
There was no way I had a background, and I had no talent at all.
The abilities might be proved by the branch of the World Tree.
However, considering the consequences, it was wise to keep the branch of the World Tree a secret for a while.
Of course, there was no reason to worry about this when admission was already confirmed.
But, what if I couldn't prove my abilities after admission
If so, it was obvious that I would probably be kicked out without even completing a year.
The first thing I had to do was to develop my own abilities.
And that wasn't all.
Considering what I had to do in the future, my own strength was important, but I also needed colleagues who could be trusted and helpful in many ways.
'I'm running out of time to do everything on my own, and more importantly, there is no chance of me becoming an expert in magic or anything like that.'
In retrospect, I had played the original game to such a degree that I was called the deceased(Stagnant water).
Over the years, I had forgotten a good portion of it, but I still remembered important details.
And in that memory, the first appearances of the playable characters remained vivid.
Archmage and Swordmaster.
The two were childhood friends and the pearls of the world.
However, those two would not be admitted through the normal way, but through some sort of expedient.
And I knew everything about how they were going to get into the academy, what kind of situation they were in, and what they were going to do.
That's why I....
“Ji-Hyuk! Please move this to the warehouse!"
I'm on my way!"
I was doing a part-time job as a handyman.
* * *
After packing up all the things, I straightened my back for a moment and sighed.
I had been carrying heavy things all morning, so I felt like I had no body left.
‘The branch of the World Tree is a real scam.’
The main stats that received buffs from the branches of the World Tree were agility and art.
Strength and stamina were also buffed, but compared to the two, it could be said to be insignificant.
But thanks to the buffs, it only made me feel a little sluggish and achy now, even though I had worked for four hours without a break to organize the warehouse.
It was unimaginable in the past.
Come to think of it, I had to deal with the Mandragora somehow.
Selling it would make it worth the price, but the problem was that there were no route to sell.
However, it was just too precious for me to eat.
Of course, there would be enormous benefits if I consumed it as it was, but it would have been many times more effective if I had gone through the proper process and made a potion of it.
There was a saying about Mandragora that it can even bring the dead back to life.
It would be better to consume more efficiently if possible.
I left it on the desk in my room for now.
I was curious about it, so I put it in a glass of water, which he seemed to like, and did not show any defiance or behavior.
Rather, he seemed to be floating leisurely in the water.
I sat down roughly and took the game console I was carrying, out of my bag without taking it off my body.
The screen inside the game console was almost completely filled with ''.
I manipulated the game console to acquire the 'branch of the World Tree' and checked the updated information.
Branch of the World Tree (Bonded / Parasitic / Legendary)
― It belongs to the owner.
― Parasitic on the owner and cannot be forcibly removed.
― Increases agility and art significantly.
― Increases strength and stamina slightly.
― Increases overall stats in areas with vegetation.
― You can feel the sense of nature more sensitively.
― Part of the world tree can be extracted from the body.
At the moment, that is immature.
There was no difference between this and my memory.
In particular, when I looked at the information that was currently covered with '', my memory became clearer.
'The call of the Spirit, the call of nature, and the transcendence.… It was like that.'
The call of the Spirit might sound grandiose, but was nothing special.
It simply meant the spirits, which are natural beings, would occasionally help in battle.
The help was also ambiguous, and frankly, it was like this ability didn't exist at all.
The call of nature.
I really wanted to get this if possible.
The call of nature was when the battlefield is nature.
In other words, if the battlefield was not a building, it could call for an entity to come to the aid of its owner.
Sometimes it could be a wild beast at best, but sometimes it could be an ancient being or a tremendously powerful entity like a spirit.
To be honest, it was one of the most coveted abilities for me now, who had no combat experience at all.
And finally, transcendence.
Transcendence was the reason why the branch of the World Tree was placed at the top of the list of fraudulent items.
It was a simple and nonsensical ability that allowed the owner to transcend and become nature itself.
Lee Ye-Eun, who possesses this skill, was able to cause typhoons and even earthquakes with a single wave of her hand in the final chapter.
However, in order to develop these abilities, I had to overcome the trials of the World Tree.
And since those trials were tests where trickery didn't work at all, I did not even dare to challenge them now.
I glanced around and raised my arms to look inside my wrist.
Then a small crack appeared in the wrist, and the tip of the blade, which flashed black, came out little by little.
The dagger was slowly coming out through the raw flesh, but I didn't feel any pain.
A few days ago, after successfully killing Nidhogg, the dagger I got was unusually sharp like an awl, and the rest had no blade.
Nidhogg's Fang (Bonded / Legendary)
A dagger forged with the teeth of the mythical monster, Nidhogg.
Although it has no blade and only the tip of a sword, the danger of this will be flagged by anyone who knows its true worth.
It's also very sharp, so even if it's an armor that a Dwarf has carved out, it can easily penetrate it.
The poisonous fangs that dried up and made the World Tree wither will be an effective means of attack against spirits and mortals.
― Increases owner's resistance to poison significantly.
― It can attack non-formal beings, such as the astral bodies(ghosts), fluids, spirits.
― There is a high probability of being poisoned when stabbed by this dagger.
― The owner will have absolute resistance to the poison of this dagger.
― Can be hidden in the owner's body.
It's not bad.
It was definitely a good weapon.
Poison, it was a disturbing word.
At least it wouldn't harm me, so I wouldn't have to worry about it.
With that in mind, I stood up.
Gaining the ability, overcoming the trials to do so, and getting stronger to challenge the trials again.
It wasn't a bad plan.
To be honest, there was no set way to go about it at this point, with only a big goal and no details planned out yet.
But now, as it occurred to me earlier, there were still issues that needed to be dealt with first.
The place where I was currently working was one of the annexes of a nationally accredited research facility.
The main duties here were to store and organize research materials, documents, and other items.
In other words, it was a big archive and warehouse.
Since it was a non-essential facility, it was run like a private company with inadequate support even though it belonged to the government.
At this point, with less than a month left until admission to the academy, there was no reason for me to spend a week or so of golden time here.
But this was where the most important event of 'Clouds on the Horizon' would take place.
“Ji-Hyuk, I need a moment...Whew.”
A middle-aged man opened the door, looked inside the warehouse, and rolled his tongue.
The head of the operations team here and the person in charge of personnel… Anyway, he was the guy who handled all the works, looked at me, and asked.
“You really are an academy student, aren't you Did you organize all of this in one morning"
"Come on, I've told you so many times.
I'm a non-combatant, you know.
I'm worried about whether or not I'll be able to get a job."
I smiled bitterly and gave him a naive look.
It was because of the concept of 'a prospective student who is excited about entering the academy, but has no other talents to show off '.
It was a little cheesy, but I couldn't help it.
It was because this generous man in front of me was actually an influential man in the association who had the authority to recommend people to the academy.
I wondered, though, why someone with that much authority would do chores in a place like this.
“Well, that’s fine.
Are you done with the warehouse work”
“Then go somewhere with me."
To my question, he gave me the answer I was expecting.
“The director has a visitor, and I need you to help.”
It was the real beginning of the story.
* * *
Standing in front of the most organized place here, I knocked on the door.
I carefully opened the door at the voice of permission to come in immediately.
“I heard you called, director.”
“Oh, come in.”
As I opened the door and entered, I found an old man with a benevolent impression sitting in his seat.
He was wearing an old suit, and he stared at me, his brow furrowed.
“Let’s see, was your name Ji-Hyuk”
He had always been famous for his lack of flaws, so I wasn't too surprised that he knew my name.
A woman was standing beside him, fidgeting awkwardly in her seat.
"Say hello, this is Miss Amelda, who came as an exchange student from the Philatia Academy in Europe.”
"Oh, hello! I'm Amelda Lysner.”
Amelda was a woman with light blonde hair and light gold eyes.
At first glance, she looked a little older than I was now.
The first thing that struck me when I saw her was how vague the impression really was.
With a little bit of exaggeration, if I hadn't been aware of her presence, I would have thought that there were only two people in this large room.
"My name is Yoo Ji-Hyuk.”
"Oh… It's nice to meet you."
Amelda smiled awkwardly and gave a frivolous look.
Just by looking at it, she seemed to be claiming, 'I'm harmless'.
“I heard you called.”
"Oh, I just wanted to ask you a favor."
I had a rough idea of what kind of request he would make, but I pretended not to know and asked back.
“General Jang told me that Ji Hyuk has been here for a short time and has been doing a really good job.”
“I'm not flattering you.
He even added that you were more reliable than most full-time employees because you are meticulous in your work and sincere.”
The director, who gave such compliments, glanced at Amelda.
“Miss Amelda will probably have her field trip here for two days or so tomorrow.
It's called a field trip, but you can think of it as free exploration.”
The director who said that, tilted his head as if he was still confused.
But then he nodded his head as he looked at the official letter on the desk.
It was clear that he believed that he had to follow what came down from above.
Now, I was the only one who knew that the official letter had been forged.
"In the meantime, would you be willing to show Miss Amelda around"
"You mean me"
He added with a nod.
“Originally, it’s something that employees should do, but…There's something important being delivered this afternoon.
Everyone's busy preparing for something related to it.
So there is no one to ask for.”
"But I'm just a part-timer."
“Would it be okay if I gave you an extra pay I'll take care of you so you don't get upset."
“Then I'll try.
You said it was just to show her around, didn't you"
I nodded my head.
I was skeptical at first, but it was going the way I had predicted.
The prediction was so accurate that it made me rather anxious.
“I said it was to show her around, but Miss Amelda will probably find the material she wants to find or investigate on her own.
All you have to do is just guide her, but...
How long had I been waiting for him to say those words
I quickly nodded my head and added to his words.
“But as the director knows, I am just a part-timer.
The only places I can enter are those that are open to the public.”
“It's good if she just want to read the public records but if she want more information than that… … .”
The director nodded at my words.
“Now that I hear it, I see.
Well… But in principle, you can't grant authority to outsiders...
He was troubled for a moment, then shrugged as if he had no problem.
"If so, would it be okay to temporarily grant Ji-Hyuk the authority to visit as a full-time employee”
I managed to suppress my pounding heart and nodded.
"Yes, thank you for trusting me.
So, should I take Miss Amelda around and search for her materials”
I'll be glad to see you for a few days."
The director nodded his head as if it was okay to leave after saying that.
Amelda followed me out of the room as if she was playing a train.
"You said your name is Ji-Hyuk, right It's nice to meet you."
“Yes, me too.”
She reached out her hand and I reflexively grabbed her hand.
Amelda exhaled in admiration.
"Wow, it's hard."
Seeing her squirming, I gave a friendly smile.
In the original story, her guide was an unnamed full-time employee.
And I wondered if that person had just been fascinated by this kind of behavior and manipulated her alibi.
“Where would you like to go first”
“Oh, I can go as I please”
The director just told me to let Amelda go wherever she wants, right”
I added quietly.
“It is only a place that is allowed for general employees.”
“Uh, then… … .”
After thinking for a moment, Amelda said to me as if she had made a decision.
“First of all, can I get access to historical sites in Nordic ruins and materials related to mythology”
"Sure, there's a storage room for those materials just downstairs."
I took the lead and moved forward.
Soon after, I could feel the signs of her following me.
Her real name was Esmeralda Lysnerger.
‘A member of the villain group Red Case.’
I escorted her to her archives, calmly contemplating how to deal with the future events.