The mountain range around Bukhansan.
The location for the “pre-field study” was an area of Bukhansan adjacent to the school site.
You may think, “Huh? Practicing catching monsters in Bukhansan, a mountain right by Seoul?” but you shouldn’t think of this place as the Bukhansan National Park of the 21st century.
In the future, Seoul will start growing and eating away at areas to the south of Bukhansan and Goyang.
While Uijeongbu did the same to the northern parts, so to protect the natural reserves of the mountain, the area became a national park, but that was something in the distant future.
The Bukhansan area of this era wasn’t a mountain nearby, the neighbourhood, but just any other mountain on the outskirts of Gangwon-do.
We climbed this mountain that didn’t even have a clear path.
In my hand was a Kyodo(敎刀)* that had been given to me by the school.
In general, shaped just like a Japanese sword, it was a training sword made of stainless steel.
My ability right now was auror blowing, in other words, the ability to infuse mana to my weapons, and I was quite familiar with working with swords in the 21st century.
(*note: literally “education sword”)
But I didn’t really have too many chances to use it.
I shouted at Song Byung-oh.
『Byung-oh! It’s that way! On the tree……』
Since I also had the ability to sense mana, apart from my auror blowing, I was able to locate nearby monsters.
The reason why I could sense the Gate opening when I first woke up was also probably thanks to this ability.
If I used this ability to give a rough indication of where the monster was,
『It’s a “Kedama” again! I got it!』
Song Byung-oh shot a mana bullet to deal with the monster.
The mana bullet hit its target! Of course, there were no mistakes like that last time.
『That was a good shot.』
『Hehe…… This is different to the popgun I’ve been using until yesterday.』
As it turned out, the gun he was using yesterday wasn’t a real revolver, just a model gun shaped like it was cut off a casting.
A gun that, if you put in gunpowder and pulled the trigger would just make a loud bang noise; in other words, just a toy gunpowder gun.
He has just grabbed a toy gunpowder gun and remodelled it so that it could shoot out steel pellets.
『It’s funny to think that I was carrying a toy gun that little kids played with at this age…….
Compared to that, look at the brilliance of this thing.』
He said, proudly holding up his gun.
To be honest, what he was holding in his hand wasn’t a real gun; it was just an educational gun that was an imitation of a gun and couldn’t even fire live rounds, but even so, it was still made for Yeopsa training, so it was a million times better than the modified toy gunpowder gun he used to us.
Of course, his mana bullets were still quite rough, but the reason why he could he was able to kill the monsters with a single shot was because all of them were small, low-level monsters that had been released by the school for practice.
Like the monster that Song Byung-oh had just defeated, it was the species that we would call “Feather Ball” in the 21st century.
‘So they call these “Kedama”(毛玉)…… The ideas they come up with to name things is just the same here in this era as it was back in the 21st century.’ (note: literally “hair/wool marble”)
These monsters, about the size of a fist and covered with feathers, are technically monsters, but they have a gentle temperament and are not very aggressive, so they were mostly used as lab rats.
It was to the point that they got sold as pets.
The monsters released for the practice were mostly of the same level.
I mean, of course, there was no way they were going to release really dangerous monsters for freshmen, who hadn’t even received proper training, to defeat.
It was obvious if you thought about it just for a bit.
Even if the old Japanese education system was a mess, it’s not like they would put precious talents in danger before they were even ready.
‘Well, even if they’re low-level monsters…….’
It was better, as a matter of fact.
They were easy to handle even for students, and since they were lower classed mobs, their mana stones were weaker, but fresh mana, no matter how small, still helped.
I checked the progress of the recovery of the status window.
[Status system recovery initiated.]
[Status system being reinstalled onto Ghost.]
[Time left: 75 days 6 hours 31 seconds]
Well, compared to the 83 days left that it showed in the morning during the entrance ceremony, there had been a lot of progress.
‘They said this practice would go through the afternoon, right?’
If it continued to go like this all the way in the afternoon, I would be able to speed up the recovery process by a few dozen days.
On top of that, I didn’t even need to put in too much effort.
All I had to do was give out directions and get the last hit in to take the mana stones.
‘Piece of cake……!’
I focused my mana again to detect the position of the monsters.
Unlike earlier, this time, I found a place where many small monsters were gathered.
In cases like this, even if the power were inferior compared to the mana bullets, the ability to damage a wider range would be more effective.
『Lee Yu-ha! 3 o’clock!』
At my words, Lee Yu-ha, who had been following behind, put up her slender arm towards the direction I was pointing at and got ready to unleash her ability, “ice release”.
Lee Yu-ha hadn’t said a word since earlier, but she had been following along rather well.
I looked at her like that and thought.
‘To be honest…… I thought she was gonna leave the squad.’
But contrary to what I thought, she had stayed in the squad.
Earlier, when Yang Bok-ja was revealing the secret(?) of my birth, I thought Lee Yu-ha, who had been emanating a scary atmosphere, would be disgusted by me, shouted, “Gah! I had not known thou wast such a rat!” and run away.
Instead of getting angry, she calmed her magic and,
“……I must have been an idiot.
I should hast known school wouldst be liketh this.”
She had muttered to herself.
She looked like the daughter of some nobleman out in the countryside, she didn’t have any common sense about the city, and her Japanese was poor as if she had taught herself.
Did she happen to have a prejudice that all new-styled schools would be full of pro-Japanese people?
She eventually difficulty made up her mind to come to this school, met me in the morning and had expectations thinking “at least he doesn’t seem pro-Japanese”, so it was only natural for her to feel disillusioned when she discovered this guy, someone she had such big expectations of, to end up being involved in a pro-Japanese conversation about changing surnames or receiving the title of baron.
After all this, her prejudice that the only Joseon people that would attend a school like this would be pro-Japanese had probably grown even more.
So the reason that Lee Yu-ha decided to stay in my squad, despite all of this, was probably because she decided that even if she left, all the other students would just be the same.
‘……It feels cold.’
And from that moment, her atmosphere changed completely.
Her attitude changed to that of someone that didn’t expect anything, just did the things that needed to be done.
Her eyes and attitude changed completely from when I first met her.
‘At least she follows my directions, so that’s good, but I need to clear the misunderstanding.’
But right now, there were other Japanese students around us, so it would be better to tell her that she shouldn’t worry since I’m not a pro-Japanese when we’re between ourselves.
‘I’ll try talking to her during lunchtime later.’
To clear up the misunderstanding, there was nothing I couldn’t do, the same way I did with Song Byung-oh.
Being the son of a pro-Japanese doesn’t immediately make you pro-Japanese, right? She should understand that much.
I thought that far and then called out to Yang Bok-ja.
『Yang Bok-ja! Ready!』
『Seriously…… Shirabayashi-kun! I told you to call me Tomiko!』
She quickly approached me, grumbling, stood by Lee Yu-ha and clasped her hands together.
After getting ready, Yang Bok-ja shouted.
『I’m ready! Lee Yu-ha, are you ready too?』
『I think Lee Yu-ha is ready, as well!』
Lee Yu-ha didn’t answer back at Yang Bok-ja, either.
Lee Yu-ha most probably felt quite uncomfortable to have Yang Bok-ja, who had said herself that she was pro-Japanese, in front of her eyes, but there was no way Yang Bok-ja would know about this, so she kept talking to Lee Yu-ha without hesitating.
‘Is she just unnecessarily friendly, or just bold…….’
Anyway, I felt they were both ready, so I gave the instruction.
Lee Yu-ha, release!』
At my words, freezing air gushed out of Lee Yu-ha’s fingertips.
Yang Bok-ja controlled this released chill and hit the targeted monsters in one shot.
The monsters, now with their surface completely frozen, clattered to the ground.
This was why elemental release ability users and telekinetic ability users worked well together.
Elemental release users could release the mana in their body in physical forms, like fire or cold air, but this alone meant that they had trouble controlling their aim and that their range was quite short, making it hard to hit their targets accurately.
If a telekinesis user controlled this energy remotely, they could take the place of aiming at the target.
Yang Bok-ja, who formed one half of the attack, admired herself as if she had just been amazed.
『This actually works …….
Shirabayashi-kun, you’re amazing! I only know how to use my ability to make coins float.
Where did you learn all of this?』
『It’s from age.』
『Hahaha…… We’re the same age, what do you mean “from age”!』
I left Yang Bok-ja to laugh by herself, turned to the squad members and said.
『Let’s rest up a bit here.
And you, did you say your name was Aikawa?』
From the six squad members, a girl replied.
She was a Japanese student, the fifth member I asked to join our squad.
This girl kept on speaking formally even though we were the same age.
Maybe it was because we weren’t close yet, or perhaps because Japanese people tended to be like this.
I told her.
『Please restore our squad members’ strength.』
This girl, Aikawa’s Awakened ability, was healing.
Since she hadn’t learnt any healing abilities yet, she couldn’t heal wounds, but it didn’t really matter as it was very improbable for us to get hurt right now.
It was enough as long as she could help us recover our strength a bit.
I was resting for a bit when Yang Bok-ja started talking to me again.
『Hey, hey, Shirabayashi-kun.
Is it necessary for us to make such an effort at this? I mean, this is just a pre-field study, right? Even the professor earlier said that it wouldn’t affect our grades…….』
Song Byung-oh also added.
That’s what I thought, as well.
Of course, it’s good to gain experience as that’s the purpose of practice, but……』
I couldn’t just answer by saying, ‘I need to absorb as many fresh mana stones as possible to recover my status window’.
So, I made up a different excuse.
This isn’t a practice.
This is a test.』
They were surprised by my words.
I kept on speaking with a determined tone.
『Do you think the reason they spread out so many monsters into this large of a space is just for us to gain experience? Of course not.
They want to assess how many monsters we can defeat.』
The test had just started.
This was a Hunter test!
Finding out that this is a test is the test, you newbie!
Do I have to teach every single little thing?!
All these rookies….
Maybe this is why more than half of them are out from the very beginning—.
…I said, but I, too, didn’t think that way.
They were all just 17 year-olds who had just awakened about a year or two ago, and they had no experience.
I didn’t expect them to evaluate the hunting performance of children that hadn’t learnt anything, especially since this was what they would be learning at school.
Even if they said that Japanese-style education was this or that, they would certainly not evaluate students over something they had yet to learn.
However, even if it wasn’t to evaluate our hunting performance, I was sure that they would be looking at something.
It was true that the number of monsters and the size of the place were far too large for it to simply be called a field practice.
That’s why, if there was an assessment factor to this practice, I thought it would be our collaboration as a squad.
‘Because parties are important.’
Even in Gate raids of the 21st century, unless you were someone so overwhelmingly powerful that you could handle everything yourself, cooperation with party members was obviously important.
That’s why they made us join up on squads for the practice.
Well, it was just what I thought, but it’s good to work hard anyway, right? It’s good for me personally, but also good for my squad members as they would be gaining experience.
I stood up and shouted.
『Alright! Rest over! Let’s go!』
But, there was just one problem right now…… That was the sixth member of this squad.
『Don’t order me around, you Joseon fucker.』
It was the guy that started a fight with us in the morning at the gukbap restaurant.
Murasaki, the thug that was the son of the Jongno Police Station’s chief.
……How did this guy end up in our squad? When I saw him in the morning, he had like three or four underlings, so why didn’t he just party up with them?
It was natural to think that way, but this guy couldn’t even if he had wanted to.
Poor thing, he had been assigned to this class by himself, without his gang.
He had ended up alone, and due to his appearance and behaviour, it looked like nobody wanted him in their squad, so he couldn’t join up with any squad until time ran out,
『This will be the last time I’m in the same squad as you.
I haven’t forgotten the humiliation I suffered because of you.』
He said, and he joined my squad, which had been one person short.
Wait, it was you who started the fight.
And the one who hit you was Renka.
So, why are you picking a fight with me?
『But for now, I’ll forgive you.
Japanese men, unlike Joseon people, don’t let their personal feelings intervene with their work……!』
Anyway, he said that shit as he joined our squad.
Well, whatever, we were one member short, and since then, all he’s been doing is complaining about Joseon people, but,
‘We don’t even need him to deal with the monsters, so it doesn’t matter.’
The mana I felt from this guy was one that strengthens them or something similar, and matching the Japanese sword he wore around his waist, he was a sword user.
And, there was no use of a sword to defeat the monsters that were around here now.
‘Let’s just ignore this guy…….’
It was good enough for me to take care of the other members whilst I cared for my own interests.
I urged the squad members to get up.
『Come on! Get up! It’s almost lunchtime so let’s do our best for a little longer! The path is rough, so Lee Yu-ha and Yang Bok-ja follow carefully.』
Yang Bok-ja answered enthusiastically as she got up, and she approached Lee Yu-ha, who had been resting, sitting leaning against a tree, and said.
『Come on, let’s go!』
Of course, Lee Yu-ha didn’t answer back and quietly got up.
Even though Yang Bok-ja kept on talking to her, Lee Yu-ha didn’t respond to her, so Yang Bok-ja couldn’t stand her embarrassment and asked.
『Hey, hey, why don’t you say anything? …Do you hate me?』
Even though she didn’t want to answer, there was no way she could avoid a question like that.
So, without much choice, she turned her face away from Lee Bok-ja’s gaze and answered with her clumsy Japanese.
『……Still, because, speaking, poor.』
She said that, but I didn’t think that was the real reason.
It was probably because she didn’t want to interact with a despicable pro-Japanese.
But there was no way that Yang Bok-ja would know that.
『Oh, so that’s how it is! But it will be difficult if you can’t speak the “guk-eo”…… If it’s fine, I’ll help you out!』 (note: guk-eo is the word for “national language”)
At that, Lee Yu-ha looked straight at Lee Bok-ja and said in a cold voice.
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