Chapter 294. An Unexpected Clue 1
Chapter 294. An Unexpected Clue (1)
Koong! A thunderous thud rang out as a huge body fell on the ground.
The Homunculus had collapsed. It did everything it could to move its immobilized body, but its flame of life had flickered off as soon as it pulled its arm out of the cliff.
Seol Jihu’s one-sided barrage wasn’t something it could handle even though the Spear of Purity was only a replica. But that wasn’t the only reason. There was another attack that dealt a fatal blow to the Homunculus’ final life.
Seol Jihu blankly stared at the Homunculus’ corpse as it turned into dust.
He couldn’t see properly when he was lying on the ground, but this time he got a clear look. As he was slashing away at the enemy in excitement, two spell balls had flown into the Homunculus’ nostrils. The Homunculus pulled its arm out immediately afterward and then froze up on the spot.
‘Was this how the Homunculus was killed before?’
Seol Jihu thought deeply as his expression slowly contorted. It was just too absurd. But because he had seen it with his own eyes, he couldn’t deny it.
It wasn’t as if it happened only once. Since she succeeded twice, it was hard to chalk it up to luck.
Looking back, the Homunculus was completely focused on Seol Jihu until its death. So he could say that Eun Yuri attacked while he was ‘drawing the Homunculus’ aggro’, but the process had to be discussed before the result.
It wasn’t as if the Homunculus stayed still. It was flailing about in a frenzy, yet Eun Yuri had succeeded in putting the spell balls in the monster’s ear. He would have accepted this as a possibility if a renowned sniper, like Marcel Ghionea was here. Even then, it would only be a possibility, not a guarantee.
A survivor managed to accomplish what even the Archer of Steel wasn’t guaranteed to succeed?
It wasn’t as if she sniped the Homunculus either. She controlled the spell balls like they were alive.
‘What is going on…?’
It was at this time that a gust of wind blew the pile of dust away. Seol Jihu’s eyes lit up. He found something where the Homunculus’ corpse disappeared.
It would be strange if there wasn’t an additional reward for accomplishing something like this.
Seol Jihu paused his thoughts and walked forward. A palm-sized square box was left behind on the spot where the Homunculus fell. It seemed to have been made with a transparent material, but it looked black because a jet-black energy was swirling inside it.
[Harmonia Magic Square]
A crystal that can balance the foundation of a magic square.
Created by a black mage, its original name is Magia Quadratum Ex Harmonia.
A magic square refers to a square grid filled with natural numbers in the range 1 to n2 such that the sum of the integers in each row, column, and diagonal are equal.
Following this law, the black mage created a new formula that can balance any mixture of elements.
Because the formula was made with the reversal of energies in mind, it cannot be said to be perfect. But despite being an imperfect formula, if the user accepts the risk and attempts to control it, they will be able to ‘temporarily’ control conflicting energies.
*The energy of ‘Absolute Evil’ is currently rampaging inside the crystal. A long time is needed for this energy to subside.
*To erase the energy of ‘Absolute Evil’ and infuse a new energy into it, the crystal will need to be purified.
Seol Jihu didn’t fully understand everything that was in the long description, but he could tell that this was an amazing item.
Although consuming it didn’t result in a powerful energy like with the ice essence, it seemed possible to obtain immense power by using it properly.
While Seol Jihu was fiddling around with the box, Eun Yuri and Yoo Yeolmu had run up to Seol Jihu. They judged that the fight was over since the Homunculus disappeared and had gone down in a hurry.
“Are you okay?”
Eun Yuri asked nervously. Although Park Woori healed him using potions, she couldn’t help but worry after seeing him covered in a cloud of dirt.
Seol Jihu looked straight at Eun Yuri.
“Miss Eun Yuri.”
A survivor had used mana. He had more than a few questions for her, but this was the one thing he had to ask no matter what.
“How did you do it?”
“I saw it. I want to know how you did it.”
He asked as soon as he saw her.
“I-I don’t know.”
But the answer wasn’t quite what he was hoping for.
“You don’t know?”
“No. I was so flustered that I don’t remember well… I think it just happened when I tried.”
Seol Jihu furrowed his brows. He wanted to ask, ‘How is that possible?’ But he held himself back. Depending on his tone, it could sound like he was chastising her.
At that moment, the replica Spear of Purity’s duration ran out and disappeared. With his hand now empty, Seol Jihu reached into his pocket, took out the chunk of ice that encased the ice flower and waved it in the air.
“I won’t give this to you if you don’t tell me.”
Eun Yuri did a double-take. She ran up to Seol Jihu and reached toward the ice on tippy toes. Of course, Seol Jihu wasn’t the type to give in easily. He raised the arm high, making Eun Yuri’s hand stir around the air in vain.
“G-Give it to me.”
“I won the competition. Give it to me fair and square.”
“Fair and square aside, tell me how you did it. This is yours if you come out clean.”
When Eun Yuri couldn’t reach the ice even when she jumped, she stuck out her lower lip in a pout. The way she was grimacing heavily, it was clear that she was vexed.
She even grumbled. But seeing that Seol Jihu showed no signs of putting down his arm, she sighed quietly.
“…I think it’s because of the ability I got from the bonus privilege.”
“Mana Circuit Application, I mean.”
Seol Jihu blinked rapidly. Now that he thought about it, Eun Yuri said her status window changed when she opened the first necessary box.
“You said the necessary box gives what the user needs the most.”
“Right, I did.”
“Before I opened the necessary box back then, I thought to myself, ‘I wish I could use mana again.’ Well, to be precise, I wished it would move as I wanted it to.”
“Wait, did you just say, ‘again’?”
“Yes. Don’t you know? I went through the Awakening Chamber in the Neutral Zone.”
Seol Jihu exclaimed quietly. This meant she had felt mana before. She must have returned to an unawakened state by dying within the Neutral Zone, but it was true that she still experienced it before.
Summing things up, that mysterious ability must have helped her awaken her mana circuit.
Seol Jihu tilted his head. Even if he made a hundred concessions and took everything Eun Yuri said at face value, his doubt did not disappear. This was because feeling mana was completely different than rousing and utilizing mana. Not to mention, releasing mana externally to manipulate objects was difficult for most Earthlings.
An arrow could not change direction once it left the string. This immutable law applied to Paradise as well. Unless one acquired a skill like Ayase Kazuki’s ‘Swallow Arrow’ or used a high-level redirection magic spell, it was impossible to change this physical law.
When Seol Jihu asked about this point, Eun Yuri’s reply surprised him.
“It worked though.”
“It just worked…”
Saying so, Eun Yuri bent down and picked up a rock. She repeated tossing it into the air and catching it before tossing it hard. When she pointed her finger at the rising rock and drew a circle in the air, something astonishing happened.
Although the rock was still falling, following the law of gravity, it was noticeably slow. It even spun following the movement of Eun Yuri’s finger.
Once the rock gently landed on Eun Yuri’s palm, Seol Jihu’s jaw dropped. Eun Yuri held the rock tight and tilted her head.
“Is this supposed to be hard?”
The way she said it, she made it sound like it was child’s play. Of course, that was probably not what she intended, but Seol Jihu couldn’t help but interpret it that way.
And Seol Jihu…
‘She’s so full of herself!!’
But in truth, this wasn’t something Seol Jihu should say as someone who started with Future Vision and Nine Eyes innate abilities and all kinds of privileges.
‘I can’t believe it… Just what kind of insane talent does she have…!?’
Seol Jihu couldn’t help but feel jealous for the first time in his life once he saw a talent that could only be described as overwhelming. But who could blame him? After all, the realm Seol Jihu put a great deal of effort to achieve had been caught up by Eun Yuri in an instant.
‘My talent is only average….’
At this point, Seol Jihu was wondering whether Eun Yuri’s talent went beyond ‘prodigy’ and reached the level of ‘genius’. Of course, he couldn’t make a hasty conclusion since Roselle said that the chance of a genius appearing was one in a thousand years.
‘So it’s really possible to get this far with just talent…’
Seol Jihu sighed inwardly before deciding to look at this in a positive way. Such a capable individual entering Paradise wasn’t a bad thing at all. If anything, it would be the Parasite Queen’s concern, not his.
‘Looks like we should get to the Neutral Zone as soon as possible.’
After organizing his thoughts, Seol Jihu looked at Eun Yuri, who was juggling several rocks without using her hands.
“How many coins do you have left?”
“We got rid of the Homunculus. It’s time to head to the Neutral Zone now.”
The rocks all fell.
But Eun Yuri surprisingly rejected the idea.
Speaking in a firm voice, she glanced behind her. There, a dozen or so people were looking down at them, each glaring with a furious expression.
Yoo Yeolmu, who was standing silently, smiled awkwardly and waved his hand. This was his way of saying ‘good job’ to them.
“Those people are…”
“They’re all bastards!”
When Seol Jihu asked who they were, Park Woori immediately snitched on them.
“Those sons of bitches wanted to backstab you! They schemed to steal the coins we worked so hard to gather!”
Seol Jihu looked up at the group with a chuckle. He was actually worried that the other survivors might scheme against Eun Yuri, but the fact that they were in this current situation must mean that Eun Yuri broke through the crisis well.
To be honest, he didn’t think much of the other survivors until the point when he killed the Sixth Mother. Since they were all precious customers who would spend Survivor Points in the Neutral Zone, he planned to close his eyes and bring them along with him.
This was why he swallowed his indignation and let them be when they escaped on their own at the gathering point, but after finding out that they tried to backstab Eun Yuri, the little patience Seol Jihu had left, vanished.
‘If you’re a guest, you need to act like one.’
Seol Jihu felt like he couldn’t rest easy until he taught them a lesson. However, he soon realized that he didn’t need to take the matter into his hands.
Because Eun Yuri’s eyes lit up as she looked up at the crowd.
Seol Jihu decided to look for the remaining coins at Eun Yuri’s request. The amount they had now was more than enough, and because Park Woori pulled a good number of random coin boxes from the gacha machine, they had enough coins for the three survivors— Eun Yuri, Park Woori, and Yoo Yeolmu— to pass.
But Eun Yuri said there was something she really wanted to do, so Seol Jihu did not press the matter any further.
After all, looking for the coins wasn’t anything difficult. While they were searching for the coins following the Diary of an Unknown Survivor, Seol Jihu could not hide his shock after hearing how Eun Yuri gathered the coins so quickly.
Of course, he didn’t forget to recognize the two men’s contributions.
“I have to thank you both. Especially you, Mister Yoo Yeolmu. It must have been hard running back and forth for so long.”
“It’s nothing. Stamina is the only thing I have a lot of.”
Yoo Yeolmu smiled innocently like a simple country bumpkin.
“You’ll be repaid in the Neutral Zone.”
“Hyung-nim! What about me? What about me?”
As Yoo Yeolmu bowed, Park Woori cut in right away.
“You too, Mister Park Woori.”
Seol Jihu said with a smile.
“Anyway, you were more daring than I thought. How did you think to run all the way here with the bag?”
“To be honest, I was a little scared. But I had confidence in making it out alive.”
Park Woori showed Seol Jihu his cell phone. After reading the third precaution given in the Guide’s note, Seol Jihu’s eyes widened.
[Guided by the grudge of ‘Absolute Evil’ looming over the island, the Homunculus’ target will ‘first’ be the survivor who annihilated the Sixth Mother.]
Taking notice of the word ‘first’, Seol Jihu’s jaw dropped. He began to understand why Park Woori ran at him so madly.
“But… you could have died with me.”
“Eii, it emphasizes the word ‘first’. Hyung-nim didn’t look so easy to kill; plus, I was getting support from the back… hehe!”
As Park Woori gave a silly laugh, Seol Jihu looked at him in a renewed way. He had not expected much from the man, but Park Woori’s wits weren’t ordinary.
Seol Jihu didn’t know what class Park Woori would end up with, but being witty and having the ability to read the atmosphere were outstanding characteristics to have in Paradise. After all, even with his poor status window, Park Dongchun had survived in Paradise with nothing but his superb wits.
Just like that, the four people looked for the remaining coins in a friendly atmosphere. Although the remaining survivors chased after them while gritting their teeth, they didn’t dare to do anything to Seol Jihu’s group.
How could they muster up the courage when Seol Jihu would summon a Mana Spear and shatter nearby rocks and trees whenever he was bored?
Once Seol Jihu pointed his hand at the group of survivors and made a couple of fake throwing gestures, the group turned tails and scattered. As a result, the four of them could find the remaining coins without any trouble.
Once they found all the coins, the cell phones rang. A message had arrived alerting them that Stage 2 had ended and that they should gather in the central altar.
However, Seol Jihu did not immediately head to the center of the island. Now that he thought about it, there was one more item he needed to get before entering the Neutral Zone.
As such, he went to a nearby gacha machine, made Eun Yuri pull out the Guide’s note, then put in 666 coins to pull the offering before heading to the altar.
Several people were already gathered at the altar. Eun Yuri did not give them a single glance and put the offering on the altar. When the portal was activated, Phi Sora appeared as if she had been waiting for it.
“Congratulations~ With this, the Tutorial has ended. Well, passing it is another matter though.”
Phi Sora applauded Eun Yuri. She looked like she was in a good mood. But it was no surprise why Phi Sora saw Eun Yuri so favorably. After all, Eun Yuri had helped save Seol Jihu and monopolized the coins to screw over the other survivors.
“There are 28 of you here. Well, 27 if we exclude the Helper. Anyway, I see that only three people are eligible to pass.”
Phi Sora glanced at the group of survivors standing speechlessly and grinned.
“Isn’t this cheating?”
The young man, who was looking at Yoo Yeolmu and gritting his teeth, shouted with a smudged face.
“Shut it, fuckhead.”
Of course, it didn’t work.
“Cheating, my ass. You’re the fools for falling for it.”
“W-What? What did you say?”
“You sure talk big for someone who was trying to backstab your benefactor and got caught. Have you no conscience?”
The young man’s expression distorted.
“Fuck, are you really a guide?”
“Listen, we all have organizations we are contracted to!”
A female survivor raised her voice as well. It was the woman who claimed to have escaped the first island on her own and tried to pin the responsibility on Seol Jihu.
Phi Sora snorted before looking back at Eun Yuri.
“Honey, can you give those guys enough coins to let them through?”
“So I can kill them with my own hand. Once the Neutral Zone ends, of course.”
“They’re bringing up contracts like it’s some magical blessing. I’m curious what organizations are behind them.”
The coldness in her voice made the survivors flinch.
“Don’t worry. Our representative is someone who trashed all eight organizations of our city just because he didn’t like them. Against organizations that can only afford to bring Contracted… hmph.”
Phi Sora glanced at someone while talking, and Eun Yuri’s gaze moved accordingly.
Seol Jihu averted their gazes.
Soon, Eun Yuri called Yoo Yeolmu for her preconceived plan. When she asked him to point out the survivors who did not chase after her, Yoo Yeolmu pointed out six people while trying to jog his memory.
Most of them had trouble moving from injuries.
“Tell me how many coins you found.”
When Eun Yuri asked, the six people got their hopes up and told her the number of coins in their possession. And their expectation soon became reality. Eun Yuri gave them enough coins to allow them to pass and even heal their injuries.
Like the saying, you can go half-way just by staying still, the six people rejoiced at their fortune and expressed their thanks.
After saving some of the survivors, Eun Yuri turned to the remaining 16 survivors.
“Tell me how many coins you each have.”
When she asked the same question, the survivors broke out into murmurs.
“I have two…”
“Fo… four! I have four!”
There weren’t many who possessed coins. They had offered up all the coins they gathered from the list, so the only coins they had were the ones they found after they realized they had been tricked.
“Eleven in total…”
Eun Yuri nodded gracefully.
“What should I do? I don’t have 1,589 coins…”
But Seol Jihu, who was standing behind her, could clearly see that Eun Yuri was stealthily picking out coins from her coin bag.
“Here are the extra coins.”
She immediately drew the survivors’ attention. They all looked at her nervously, knowing that the final decision rested on her.
“I can’t decide which person I should give them to, so…”
Eun Yuri trailed off and then grabbed a handful of coins from the bag. Next…
She tossed them into the air. As fifteen or so coins scattered everywhere, everyone’s gazes chased the coins in a daze.
However, Eun Yuri didn’t stop at just once. She grabbed another six handfuls and threw them in every direction. Because she was using mana, they flew far, far away.
The young man glared at her, but he didn’t have any time to speak. The more quick-witted ones were already on the move.
Soon, the sixteen people scattered to search for the coins.
“…How many did you throw?”
When the blankly staring Seol Jihu asked, Eun Yuri put her mouth against his ear and whispered.
“I threw exactly 88 coins. I mixed in a good number of pebbles, so it should have looked like a lot more.”
Seol Jihu quickly calculated in his head. There were sixteen survivors left, and they had eleven coins with them. Since Eun Yuri threw 88 coins, even if they found them all…
Phi Sora, who was eavesdropping on their conversation, announced Eun Yuri’s acceptance.
“I haven’t seen such a likable girl like you in a long time! Come here. Let’s see your disposition and calculate the Survival Points you’ll receive.”
Phi Sora called over the nine survivors who passed the second stage and began to explain about one’s disposition.
Once the explanation ended, the time to distribute Survival Points naturally came.
First up was Eun Yuri.
“Let’s see, starting from the cannibal killer…”
Phi Sora murmured for a bit before looking at Eun Yuri.
“Do I have to list it all? There’s just too much.”
“You can just tell me the total points then.”
“Fantastic. In the Basic Tutorial, you can receive 100 points for each category and receive an additional 100 bonus points. But this is multiplied by twenty times in the Special Tutorial.”
Phi Sora then added that she had to recalculate her score for saving the six survivors just now. After a while, she continued.
“12,240 base points. Having the Mark of Survival makes that 122,400 points.”
Eun Yuri gasped. She could not even imagine earning so many points when she took the Basic Tutorial in the past. This absurd number was the result of the Special Tutorial’s significantly increased base points and the Gold-grade Mark of Survival adding a 10x multiplier.
“Congratulations. Now all you have to do is spend the coins and enter the portal.”
After obediently handing over the coins, Eun Yuri paused and looked back. Seol Jihu was watching the survivors who ran off. They must have realized that there weren’t enough coins as dogfights were breaking out everywhere.
The young man who acted as the de facto leader of the survivors was lying on the ground like a frog, shaking. Seeing as how blood was flowing down his temple, he seemed to have been hit in the head with a rock.
There was also a survivor who was screaming while their hair was getting pulled. Although this person resisted fiercely, the assailant managed to steal from the wailing person.
Similar things were happening everywhere. It was a horrible sight like a scene from Hell.
Suddenly, laughter broke out. Seol Jihu flinched and looked on with a startled face.
Did she feel his gaze? Eun Yuri quickly erased her madness-filled smile.
“We can go in, right?”
Speaking courteously, she pulled on Seol Jihu’s sleeve. She was asking him to come.
“Yes, yes we can.”
Seol Jihu nodded unwittingly. The two walked past the survivors who were getting their share of the Survival Points.
Before stepping into the portal, Seol Jihu activated his Nine Eyes. Now that Eun Yuri’s disposition was actualized, he was curious about what level of cognition she had.
The first slot was ‘delicate’. He glossed over this since this was how other people saw her.
The second slot was ‘happy’. Since this slot revealed her current emotion, he understood it fully. The Neutral Zone was right in front of her, after all.
As the third slot…
Seol Jihu furrowed his brows in the next moment.
[5. Level of Cognition]
Delicate (Detailed and irreproachable) / Happy / Coy (Is innocent on the surface but is impure on the inside)
Was this referring to her sexual character or moral character?
‘Judging by the laugh just now, I’d say it’s closer to the latter…’
Seol Jihu gulped as he watched Eun Yuri disappear into the portal. Was he mistaken in thinking that he saw nine fox tails wagging behind her?
His throat became parched.
Sandalwood was fragrant even as a seed leaf.
He may have just brought someone who would change Paradise’s Six Crazies into Seven Crazies.
1. This is slightly difficult to translate. The word used here has two meanings (you can think of it as a homonym). It sounds the same but is different depending on the Hanja used. One means sexually impure (陰; lustful, lewd, etc.). The other means morally impure (淫; insidious, black-hearted, etc.)