A VIP as Soon as You Log In - Chapter 21: The Sports Day's Dark Horse - 3
While Kang Shin-hyuk was having a hard time training, the preparation week for the sports day was busy.
As outsiders were free to enter the school during the event, the faculty and staff were busy trying to establish firm security measures as well as polishing the school’s appearance, and the students were fiercely training under an enormous pressure to produce good results on sports day.
The 1st-year’s C-class was no exception, of course, and they gathered together to immerse themselves in practice whether it was practice period during class, lunch period, or after school.
“Dude, if I’m paired with another guy in the three-legged race, I’d win so easily. Can we allow a male pair, please?”
“Yeah right, you’re slower than me.”
“Hey, do we have to come all the way to this elite superhuman training academy to do a fucking three-legged race? Really?”
“I heard the sight of those guys and girls in typical schools participating in traditional sports games is quite pleasant to look at. . . . . .”
“That’s right. The school and the outsiders just want to see us, the future superhumans, playing around like clowns, doing what we’re told to do. That’s quite an abominable taste, isn’t it?”
Sports day was divided into superhuman and non-superhuman competitions, where non-superhuman competitions consisted of games where superhumans as well as non-superhumans could participate–three-legged race, tug-of-war, ball-rolling, cheerleading, and so on. The use of mana was prohibited. They were not different from the games that were played on ordinary high schools’ sports days.
On the other hand, the superhuman-exclusive games set little to no restrictions on the types of abilities that one could use, and their designs were consistent with the educational goal of a superhuman training academy, prompting their students to freely use their learned knowledge and skills in many different types of demanding situations. From monster hunting, group maneuver, and maze escape to terrain strategizing, performing arts contest, horse riding, and finally–the most popular event of Shinyoung Sports Day–relay race, one could expect to see quite a spectacle of the students’ diverse talents.
Even if some games of the “superhuman” category resembled those of the non-superhuman counterpart, the difference could be clearly seen when the game started. It was impossible not to notice a difference.
“We’re forming the pairs! Everyone who wishes to participate, please gather here!”
“Hey, wanna team up?”
“Hey, you, come here.”
“Dude, I swear this guy likes me. Aah!”
Guys and girls began to pair up at every corner as soon as the class president’s words got out. Except Kang Shin-hyuk, who was distant from his classmates, everyone seemed to be getting along pretty well.
‘Before I attended Shinyoung, I was popular too. . . . . .’
Just as Kang Shin-hyuk was feeling slightly discouraged.
“Would you like to pair up with me?”
A shy-looking girl had approached him. Feeling grateful that somebody approached him, he was about to nod his head. But then.
“Hey, you’re a slowpoke. I’d be the better partner.”
“What do you mean–you’re worse. . . . . .”
“Get lost, you two. Kang Shin-hyuk, team up with me. I think you and would be a good match. My agility’s B Rank–you know that, right?”
Before he knew it, two more girls had approached him. He had never talked to any of them before, but he knew who the last girl (the one boasting about her B Rank agility) was.
She was Karen Stringfield, a British student who was said to possess a sensory-type trait. If there was a list of “most promising 1st-year students,” her name would surely appear at the top section of the list.
“St-Stringfield. . . . . .”
“Wow, that’s incredible.”
“Are you kidding–Kang Shin-hyuk’s stock has skyrocketed.” (1)
Kang Shin-hyuk tilted his head as he faced Karen Stringfield’s green eyes staring at him.
He couldn’t make out her intentions. If she was looking for a hotshot, there was the unreachable Baek In-ha, but she chose to ask him instead.
“You’re gonna pair up with me, right?”
Overwhelmed by Karen’s pressure, the other two girls had already gone somewhere else, and he could probably earn some additional points by participating in the three-legged race with her, so there was no reason to refuse.
But when he came back after receiving a knot from the class president, Karen Stringfield said to him in a soft voice, as she took the knot to tie their ankles together:
“You know, the Wyvern Knights have their eyes on you.”
“Oh, that’s right. There was this one guy talking about my base being too weak or whatever.”
“They were actually looking to recruit Do Woojin as a new member, but you ended up humiliating him in front of the whole class, so. . . . . .”
With those words, Kang Shin-hyuk finally understood Yoo Min-joon’s motive for suddenly starting a quarrel with him that day.
He was wondering why an incident relating to Do Woojin had provoked him so much, but knowing that Do Woojin was a prospective member of the Wyvern Knights, he could see the confrontation from a different perspective. Yoo Min-joon was trying to repay the humiliation of his fellow comrade. They were indeed a mature group centered around camaraderie.
“I’m not bragging, but I’m one of the new members of Wyvern Knights. That’s how I found out.”
“I see. Thanks for letting me know.”
“Don’t mention it. Honestly, it’s not even funny. Why would you doubt and bear a grudge against someone who won in a fair match? Instead of using the opportunity to reevaluate your abilities? You know what I mean?”
“Oh, I see.”
Kang Shin-hyuk asked, looking down at the back of Karen Stringfield’s head as she checked the knot’s firmness.
“So your role is to reevaluate my abilities?”
“Yup. There are quite a few people in the Wyvern Knights with the same thought. Though there are a lot more who oppose the idea of reconsidering you.”
“I know that.”
“I’m glad you know. I was going to tell you to be careful, but. . . . . . . I guess that wasn’t necessary. Should we get started, then?”
Karen Stringfield said with a grin after raising her head. Kang Shin-hyuk smiled back at her. He didn’t hate the type of person who spoke frankly.
Kang Shin-hyuk and Karen’s pair performed well in the three-legged race. Baek In-ha sent him a desperate look pleading for him to change his running partner, which he ignored.
Kang Shin-hyuk continued to perform outstandingly in the ensuing practice matches. How could he have not, having upgraded his body’s physical stats–the only asset that allowed him to survive in Shinyoung due to his lack of magical power–to be on par with the best 1st-year students?
In particular, his performances in non-superhuman games (where the use of mana was prohibited) were nearly equal to those of Baek In-ha and Karen Stringfield. He had pulled off quite notable results in superhuman games as well, where he didn’t refrain from using his spirit power. After all, winning the rookie competition after performing poorly in these matches could raise a lot of suspicion.
“Then Kang Shin-hyuk should participate in the maze escape, right?” (2)
“Of course he should, even if he ran with the speed he showed with his ankle tied to Karen’s.”
“Then we’ll have Baek In-ha participate in the relay race, and. . . . . . What about the performing arts contest? Isn’t there anyone who can do some flashy stuff?”
“I can juggle pretty well if I can get help from two people.”
“As expected of Karen!”
“Hm. . . . . . Kang Shin-hyuk, you wanna try the performing arts contest too? Wouldn’t we get a high score if he did some fancy weapon techniques?”
“Huh? Uhm, okay.”
“Okay then, it’s decided.”
Did he perform a little too well? Kang Shin-hyuk was quickly confirmed to represent the class in three competitions. Of course, the more he participated, the more likely he was to receive additional points in his academic assessment, so he couldn’t let go of the opportunities.
Having drawn a lot of attention for his victory over Do Woojin, his classmates were feeling quite distant from him. Though it was better than being laughed at, it didn’t change the fact that he felt like an outsider to the class.
“Okay, then let’s move onto the CvC games! (3) Let’s practice group maneuver first! We’re going to practice with D class!”
“Where do we borrow the equipment?”
“Hey, I heard Magic majors use psychokinesis to disturb other classes’ coordinations. Is that true?”
“We have Magic majors on our side too, so there’s no need to worry. We can just leave it up to them.”
“Wow, Kang Shin-hyuk has a great sense of balance!”
It was now time to practice for the game where everybody was forced to work together.
For Kang Shin-hyuk’s classmates, the practice sessions were a great opportunity to reevaluate his skills and improve their friendship with him.
Kang Shin-hyuk also accepted their suggestions without a second thought because he wanted to get a good evaluation on sports day.
As a result, it looked like he was well mixed into his class, at least on the surface.
‘I guess this is how it looks.’
Kang Shin-hyuk thought blankly while practicing with his classmates.
Most of them didn’t have particularly malicious intent for casting Kang Shin-hyuk aside. They were just afraid that their academic assessments would be lowered by associating with someone who didn’t have the capacity to wield mana.
It was much easier for them to crush him to the ground and stand on top of him than to accept him and suffer by his side.
They all had the pride that was carried by the name ‘Shinyoung’ in their heart. In their mind, the people who could swallow that pride and dare to befriend Kang Shin-hyuk were so strong that their perceived worth wouldn’t diminish no matter who they associated with. Someone like Baek In-ha, that is.
“Kang Shin-hyuk, you’re really fast. Your stamina is amazing too.”
“I’m really counting on you on sports day!”
“Yup, let’s do well together.”
“Uh, yeah. Let’s do well.”
But now things had changed. Even if he lacked mana, Kang Shin-hyuk proved that he was capable of defeating a top student with his ability alone.
A proof of his value that was effective enough to remove the labeling of ‘failure’ that had always been attached to him.
Knowing that, there was no more need for his classmates to be afraid of getting close to him, because no one could look down on Kang Shin-hyuk anymore. It was an exceedingly simple line of logic, with no room for the question of good or evil to intervene.
It was precisely because Kang Shin-hyuk understood that logic that he didn’t complain to his classmates, “You’ve isolated me all this time and now you’re pretending to be friends?”
‘But still. . . . . . I probably wouldn’t open my heart to any of them, ever.’
It wasn’t that his classmates were at fault, but the time, place, and the way things had played out were less than ideal.
Even though he knew very well that they were flawed humans like everyone else and that the people he’ll meet in the future would be no different. . . . . .
A heart that was once split apart was scarred for life, no matter how hard you tried to stitch it back up.
“Hey. . . . . . We’re definitely gonna win!”
“At this pace, we’re gonna win the MVP award!”
“We can do it! 1st-year C-class, fighting!”
After school, the students were hyped up after finishing their practice for sports day (though they couldn’t practice monster hunting since they couldn’t obtain monsters) strengthening each other’s spirits with great passion.
While Kang Shin-hyuk blankly watched that scene, his eyes met Do Woojin’s, who quickly gave him a look of dismissal and turned away. He didn’t have to act like a supporting cast every damn time, Kang Shin-hyuk thought. (4)
“Good for you, Shinyok-yi.”
“Huh? What is?”
Before he could notice, Baek In-ha was next to him. Kang Shin-hyuk uninterestingly replied while wiping the sweat off his forehead. But just as he was worried that Baek In-ha had figured out what he had been thinking about during the day. . . . . .
“Karen Stringfield. She’s definitely into you. Don’t you think?”
“I was a fool to take you seriously. No, it wasn’t like that, you idiot.”
Kang Shin-hyuk sighed, pushing Baek In-ha’s face. He didn’t expect him to only talk about Karen Stringfield.
“Why, she’s pretty, she’s got a great personality, her trait’s awesome. . . . . . Though if you judge from my standards, she’d be perfect if she’s a little more mature.”
“If pairing up for a three-legged race made you a couple, nobody at school would be single. I’m telling you, this is why you don’t have a girlfriend.”
“What–what’s the problem?”
Without answering his question, Kang Shin-hyuk pointed around the classroom. The girls in the class were glaring at Baek In-ha in unison. Despite his S Rank trait, they didn’t want to associate with a guy who only knew how to say such things.
Kang Shin-hyuk covertly widened the distance from him so as not to be regarded in the same way. Of course, he was thankful for Baek In-ha for always being by his side when all the others isolated him, but he didn’t want to be labeled as a pervert by being next to him either.
“Uh. . . . . . Guys, it’s not what you think. What I’m saying was a sort of a general observation. . . . . . Shinyok-yi likes older girls too, right?”
“Who the hell are you?”
He did, in fact, like older girls, but he also knew that if he nodded to Baek In-ha’s question, an unmanageable disaster would ensue, so Kang Shin-hyuk decided to treat Baek In-ha as a stranger for a while.
[You’ve received a low-rank spirit power potion for today’s login!]
[You’ve received a bonus of 1,000 HP for today’s login!]
[You’ve received one roulette coin for today’s login. By gathering five coins, you’ll earn one attempt to spin the VIP roulette!]
[You’ve received a buff for your special ability ‘Recovery.’ For 24 hours, your recovery rate will increase by 30%!]
For a week since then, Kang Shin-hyuk devoted himself to practicing for sports day as a student of C-class.
He prepared for the performing arts contest by practicing the rough choreography he sketched while making sure to not skip out on his personal training.
Even if his stats had remained the same, it was a warrior’s duty to prevent his skills from becoming rusty.
[If you start your blacksmithing training right now, you’ll be awarded 10HP!]
“Your messages are starting to sound like insurance advertisements. I’ll do it, though.”
[A 20HP bonus!]
“Though I think your bonuses are too generous to make any profits.”
Whenever his body and mind were tired after practice, he’d walk through the night breeze to the clubroom’s workshop.
He had already given up on making a defensive artifact, but he couldn’t escape from the joy of pounding metal that visited his mind now and then.
Cicatus: Is the bridle done yet, Anvil geezer?
Anvil: I told you, I’m not good enough yet.
Mirang: There’s a pile of things that people would like you to do. Get your access to the My Room function as soon as possible, Anvil. Then maybe we can make some progress.
Halo: I want to see your weapon. I’ll be waiting.
Anvil: I’m hammering whenever I have the time, so please wait patiently.
Eunah: Grandpa, you can do it!
As Anvil in his previous life did, Kang Shin-hyuk hammered while responding to the endless messages coming from his friends of Hero Universe. That was all he needed in the moment.
His blacksmithing skills and synchronization rates grew slowly yet steadily, and he became increasingly more adept at adding blacksmithing to his daily routine.
[You’ve received one roulette coin for today’s login. By gathering five coins, you’ll earn one attempt to spin the VIP roulette!]
“I’ve been meaning to ask, but what’s this VIP roulette thingy?”
[I’ll tell you when you’ve gathered all five coins. Login bonuses will become more diverse as synchronization progresses, so please look forward to them!]
A few days later, Wednesday came.
It was the day when the preliminary rounds for various competitions began. Because all the matches couldn’t be packed into a single day, the preliminary rounds were meant to be finished before the day of the main event.
Although 1st-year’s C-class did drop out of a few competitions, they passed most of the preliminary rounds, and. . . . . .
Kang Shin-hyuk successfully passed the preliminary for the rookie competition and has advanced to the round of 16.
He had proved his qualification to become one of the 16 most notable rookies in the school.
(1) A phrase used in gambling (among others), meaning that you’ve won a lot of money. It’s used here to express that Kang Shin-hyuk is getting all the girls, presumably by a guy who’s watching from the side.
(2) They’re practicing for the class competitions, where a student(s) is selected for each game to represent the class. (Unless it’s a game where the whole class participates.)
(3) Class v Class, where the whole class participates.
(4) Fourth wall break!