A VIP as Soon as You Log In - Chapter 17: The Exposed Awl - 3
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At 6 a.m. on Saturday, Kang Shin-hyuk woke up after two hours of sleep and quickly finished two packs of his field rations.
A typical superhuman could get by with only a couple of hours sleep each day thanks to their abnormal recovery rate, but Kang Shin-hyuk had slept even less than his usual sleep schedule due to the effect of the ‘Increased Blood Flow’ buff.
[Tsukuyo: You’re a tough one. . . . . . Seems like you still haven’t deleted your ID.]
[Halo: Anvil geezer, hope you’re well. Wait, I forgot–you’re not a geezer anymore.]
[Cicatus: Why didn’t you keep in touch? Are you no longer making weapons after being reincarnated or something? I was wishing for you to make a bridle for my Frozen Drake.]
[Eunah: Did you sleep well, Grandpa? Eunah just woke up!]
After having skimmed through the mountain of messages sent by his Hero Universe friends, he sent his first reply to Eunah, who seemed to have woken up at a similar time. Then he moved on to the rest of the messages.
‘Though I still don’t know what this Tsukuyo woman is trying to say.’
What if, Kang Shin-hyuk thought, Anvil was actually closer to Tsukuyo than Eunah, which he didn’t know about because his synchronization with Anvil was still incomplete?
But since that was something he had no way of knowing, Kang Shin-hyuk decided to ignore her for now. Tsukuyo had always replied with the same words no matter what he said to her, so ignoring her messages was the only answer.
On the other hand, the notification screen on his substitute communication device–a.k.a. “stick”–was simpler. There were a few trivial friendly messages from Baek In-ha and a text from Claire.
[Bartender noona: Just arrived in New York. Did you get the money?]
[Kang Shin-hyuk: (emote)]
[Kang Shin-hyuk: I’ll buy you coffee when you visit Korea again]
Claire immediately replied. Even though it was about to be dawn in Seoul, New York was still sunny.
[Bartender noona: K]
[Bartender noona: I don’t drink can coffees]
[Kang Shin-hyuk: I’ll buy you a whole freaking cafe lol. By the way, isn’t communicating through the Hero Universe’s system more convenient?]
They were already listed as friends in their Hero Universe accounts. Claire gave a simple answer to Kang Shin-hyuk’s reasonable question.
[Bartender noona: Communicating like that feels like the recipient is at a different world, so I don’t like it]
[Bartender noona: Eunah and I usually talk through the phone or texts too.]
[Kang Shin-hyuk: I see. . . . . .]
[Bartender noona: Though whispering is more convenient inside a gate, cuz you can’t get signals in there.]
[Bartender noona: Not that I have anyone other than Eunah to request for rescue.]
[Bartender noona: I have to go eat now. Don’t skip your meals like you did last time.]
[Kang Shin-hyuk: Okay]
Truly, there was a large gap between her looks and her personality. . . . . . Kang Shin-hyuk ended the conversation with emotes that expressed lots of love and respect.
The pleasant conversation had cheered him up. He put his stick back in his pocket, and resumed his intensive training.
As he lifted weights without a break and munched on packs of field rations whenever he was hungry, his spirit power powerfully roamed around in his body like yesterday, raising his self-awareness level to its limit. This time, he wasn’t distracted by unnecessary thoughts about wanting to pound metals or escape reality.
He was solely walking towards the goal of becoming stronger without getting sidetracked.
“. . . . . . Huuuk.”
As he was totally immersed in his training as if his sense of self had vanished from his consciousness, he sometimes felt his supply of spirit power depleting.
When that happened, he replenished the supply by eating an Eiren Jelly. It felt like a special treat compared to the field rations, but because the recovery rate of his spirit power increased along with its total volume, he didn’t have to worry too much about draining the supply empty.
[Baek In-ha: Shinyok, are you training right now?]
[Kang Shin-hyuk: Yup, I’m at the individual training room]
After he sent a short reply to Baek In-ha while chewing on an Eiren Jelly, Kang Shin-hyuk resumed his training. By the time he ate five more packs of field rations and one more Eiren Jelly, he had finished his weight training.
“Whoo, Whoooo. . . . . .”
He dropped the barbell, taking a few moments to catch his breath. His heart told him to keep lifting the barbell until his strength reached C- Rank, but upgrading his status wasn’t something he could accomplish in just a few hours. Until recently, he had been thinking about it in terms of years!
There was no need to hurry since there was still quite a bit of time left before the ‘Increased Blood Flow’ buff expired. After he muttered such thoughts to himself, Kang Shin-hyuk moved on to his second training. It was now time to train his Fanged Wyvern Dance.
He picked up a long spear out of the stock of the training-purpose weapons Emil Bolton had prepared for him. He intended to train with not only the long spear but also with the various weapons he had learned to use.
He had two goals he wanted to accomplish while training the Fanged Wyvern Dance.
First, he wanted to transfer the intuition of the Godslayer sword’s sword dance that he acquired during his battle against the War Troll to other types of weapons. Kang Shin-hyuk put his faith into his trait ‘Awakened Fanged Wyvern,’ which allowed him to acquire martial arts techniques at a superhuman speed.
Second, he wanted to learn more about his new ability, Weapon Upgrade, which he obtained when the ‘The Serpent without its Pearl (A-)’ evolved to ‘Fanged Wyvern Dance (A+).’ He wanted to learn especially about the feature that ‘enhances the performance of weapons held in your hands.’
‘As expected, if I grip a weapon with an empty mind, nothing happens.’
Kang Shin-hyuk muttered to himself as he saw no change in the long spear he was holding. He realized that the weapon could only be enhanced if he held it with a clear, sincere will.
‘I need to learn to freely use this ability. Even though it always promptly activated when I needed it most, I can’t just rely on it to come to my rescue in every dire situation.’
He also wanted to find out the extent to which the weapon could be upgraded. Understanding one’s overall stock of capabilities was as important as growing stronger, he thought.
“. . . . . . Let’s begin.”
Kang Shin-hyuk remembered back to when he performed his sword dance and fixed his posture. Even though it’d be impossible to exactly reproduce the movements of that day, the meaning he embedded in his movements was more important than the forms they took.
He closed his eyes gently. As he took a step forward, he slowly thrust the spear toward an imaginary point in the air. At some point, a worm-like pattern appeared on the spear.
In the afternoon, Baek In-ha came to visit Kang Shin-hyuk at the training room. He was dressed casually.
“Why did you come?”
By this point, Kang Shin-hyuk had practiced with a dagger, staff, hammer, whip and dual swords. Even though it was too early for him to try and reproduce the Godslayer Sword Dance–a name, he decided to give it–with other weapons, he had become quite good at applying his Weapon Upgrade ability.
“Shinyok, can you really lift this up?”
Kang Shin-hyuk put the whip he was holding on the floor and lifted the barbell. As he did, Baek In-ha checked the weight on the barbell and exclaimed “woah” with an impressed look.
Of course, Baek In-ha himself could lift the barbell with ease, but that was to be expected from someone who’s among the top 1st-year students. Most 1st-year students would have to reinforce their strength with mana to barely lift the barbell.
But the barbell was being lifted by his friend who could not wield magical power!
“Did you eat some ginseng or something? (1) How did you get so strong in such a short time?”
“I told you I grew stronger.”
“At least give me a hint of how you did it.”
Hearing those words, Kang Shin-hyuk grabbed a sword and pointed it at Baek In-ha. Baek In-ha saw a curious pattern engraved on the sword, and a clear sign that the weapon has gone through an upgrade, a product of Kang Shin-hyuk training his new ability for hours.
Baek In-ha looked as if he had realized something. He was indeed an elite among elites, having accurately discerned the magnitude of the weapon’s enhancement with a single look.
“Is that a skill?”
“No, it’s a trait. I told you my trait was upgraded.”
“Dude, this is not just an upgrade; it’s more like an evolution.”
“Holy crap! That’s insane!”
There have been known cases of a trait going through an evolution, but it was an extremely rare occurrence.
Even so, it was widely believed that traits that were born as strong were weaker than traits that evolved to be strong. In other words, even if two are the same A Rank traits, the one that evolved to be A Rank was stronger.
“So how is it?”
Baek In-ha cheerfully tried to hug Kang Shin-hyuk, but Kang Shin-hyuk dodged the embrace with blatant disgust. Still, Baek In-ha was smiling with happiness all over his face.
“I knew our Shinyok could do it. At this pace, you might even awaken magical power!”
It wasn’t magical power he had awakened, it was spirit power, Kang Shin-hyuk thought. He softly scoffed at Baek In-ha’s response, but on the inside, his heart was about to drop.
Kang Shin-hyuk slipped away from him, wary that he might see through his secret. Fortunately, Baek In-ha didn’t notice him retracting because he was nodding in satisfaction to his own thoughts.
“So your status climbed at once when your trait evolved. Come to think of it, if your weapon is enhanced by a trait, you could probably use it to beat the crap out of a monster without using any magical power. Wait, will the enhancement amplify with a stronger weapon?”
The Awakened Wyvern was the perfect trait to hide his spirit power’s existence because there was no way of telling that the upgrade came from a power other than his trait.
After all, the visual effect of the Awakened Wyvern was glamorous, so people’s attention would be directed there. Kang Shin-hyuk was confident he could deceive everyone who couldn’t detect spirit power.
“I see why you joined the new student competition. Maybe you’ll fight against me next year at the school-wide competition.”
“I’ll probably sweep the floor next year.”
“Look at that confidence.”
Kang Shin-hyuk seemed too confident to call his statement a bluff. While Baek In-ha suspected that his friend was hiding something, he decided not to pursue his curiosity. Kang Shin-hyuk would tell him when he wanted; he figured.
“Ah, right, Shinyok. I came here cuz I had something to tell you.”
“What is it?”
“I heard the Thunder Empress is visiting for sports day!”
“. . . . . . Why?”
As Kang Shin-hyuk asked back, wrinkles formed on his forehead. He was worried just by the mention of the name.
“She’s coming as the representative of the association. Also, the Thunder Empress is a Shinyoung alumnus.”
“Is that so. . . . . .”
“I’m warning you in advance. The Thunder Empress is mine, so you should give up.”
Kang Shin-hyuk softly called the name of his greatly determined friend whose fists were clenched. Baek In-ha got a little nervous at the kind, gentle voice of Kang Shin-hyuk that he had never heard since knowing him.
Kang Shin-hyuk tapped Baek In-ha on the shoulder with a gentle smile. It was a sincere wish of good luck without a shred of a lie. Baek In-ha looked perplexed but gave him a firm nod.
“Then I’ll seduce the Thunder Empress and become next president of the association!”
Baek In-ha continued talking about sports day but soon got kicked out by Kang Shin-hyuk. He could not waste any more of his precious ‘Increased Blood Flow’ buff’s remaining effective period.
“So the Thunder Empress is coming. . . . . .”
Kang Shin-hyuk muttered to himself after kicking Baek In-ha out of the room. Having that information in advance was a gain for him; he could at least emotionally prepare for the impending meeting with her.
‘Claire said that she’d find out in no time, but to think I’ll meet her this soon. . . . . .’
Kang Shin-hyuk checked his message log and frowned after seeing the stream of messages coming from Eunah every 30 minutes.
What would happen when she finds out who he really is? He pondered and came to a conclusion.
“Let’s hide it for now.”
Even though having the Thunder Empress on his side could be a huge advantage, he was too focused on developing his newly earned abilities to greater heights, so revealing his identity could only lead to more troubles. She was incredibly bothersome even in this moment, not even knowing they live in the same world!
. . . . . . But will he succeed? Claire figured out who he was in a flash–will he be able to hide his identity from a girl who’s been calling him “Grandpa” all this time?
More than anything should he hide his identity? That Thunder Empress of all people was blindly affectionate of him. . . . . . Wait, no, no.
“Forget about it–let’s just train.”
Kang Shin-hyuk repeatedly shook his head as if to ward off any thoughts related to Eunah and began to swing his weapon again.
It was too early to fully reproduce the Godslayer Sword Dance with other weapons, but compared to the morning, he had significantly improved. The Awakened Wyvern was an exceptional skill when it came to cultivating his martial arts skills!
He moved from practicing with a whip to practicing with a hammer, then moved onto a sword and back to the spear.
He’d drop the current weapon, use that hand to grab a pack of field rations or an Eiren Jelly and put it in his mouth as he grabbed the next weapon with the other hand.
Whip for 30 minutes, eat, hammer for another 30 minutes, eat, move onto the dagger, eat again. . . . . . The process repeated endlessly.
As he devoted all his attention to fend off the unnecessary thoughts, he had earlier, the weapon in his hand intensely vibrated.
Kang Shin-hyuk came to his senses. Without knowing, he was holding the Godslayer sword. He could feel his spirit power escaping his body to encase the sword as a whole. It was as if the sword and his spirit power had merged as one. But then.
[The Godslayer sword has successfully consumed the axe’s strengths and will upgrade to C Rank.]
[You are about to view a fraction of the memories residing in the axe.]
“Huh. . . . . .?”
As Kang-Shin Hyuk excitedly exclaimed at the timely message,
The image of the axe’s strong origin filled his consciousness.
Translator and Editor Notes:
(1) Ginseng is . . . considered to be the cure-all/panacea by some Koreans. Baek In-ha is saying that as a joke here.
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