A VIP as Soon as You Log In - Chapter 23: Breaking out of the Egg
As he had sworn to himself, Kang Shin-hyuk performed better than he did in practice for all the matches. He especially shined in shoulder wars where he joined forces with Baek In-ha.
Unlike normal highschools, Shinyoung’s shoulder wars consisted of only one “horse” along with the “flag bearer.” (1) Baek In-ha took the role of the horse due to his high speed and Kang Shin-hyuk, who was probably among the best at Shinyoung for his hand techniques, took the role of the flag bearer.
Their combination was truly terrifying.
“What, when did they pass!”
“Hey, he stole your headband!”
“Catch that bastard! Use your magic to stop his movements!”
“Dude, what kind of trait does Baek In-ha have? He won’t slow down!”
“Took yours as well, moron. You’re out!”
The Baek In-ha and Kang Shin-hyuk duo bravely dashed through the group of countless Shinyoung students to knock them over or steal their headbands to disqualify them from the competition.
Because the two were a threat in everyone’s eyes since the beginning of the competition, they were the center of focus of magic attacks from the White Team’s Magic majors, but they weren’t enough to stop the formidable duo.
“Shinyok, we’re going faster!
They could have woven a t-shirt out of the threads of all the headbands that they had collected, but the two did not stop. Baek In-ha continued to run, and Kang Shin-hyuk continued to knock over or snatch the headband from any unfortunate pair that happened to be in their vicinity.
The duo would not have lasted long if they had lacked even a minuscule portion of Baek In-ha’s speed or Kang Shin-hyuk’s deft hand movements, but they were persistently surviving by working together in perfect unison, plunging their opponents’ determination to the bottom.
“Hey, drive them in! Drive them in!”
“Wow, they’re calling for reinforcements!
“What’s our team doing?”
“We’re protecting the captain’s headband!”
But Shinyoung Academy, like Gira stars, was a place that brimmed with exceptional talents. (2) No one could deal with the duo for a short while, but now that they were surrounded by the majority of the remaining White Team who were slowly closing in, Baek In-ha had no way to escape.
“You’ve held out so far. Especially you, Kang Shin-hyuk. You’re not as I expected.”
“I guess the rumor was true that you’ve awakened mana. Did it come with the ability to hide your mana as well?”
“You should’ve made the report as soon as you awakened it. You ended up confusing me.”
The Knight majors of White Team said as they slowly narrowed the distance. Given their rude manner of speaking, they seemed to be mixed with several sunbaes who belonged to the Wyvern Knights.
Kang Shin-hyuk, however, was indifferent to their comments and was solely focused on figuring out the best way to drag his opponents to hell. But then Baek In-ha said to him.
When Baek In-ha straight-up called his name without joking around, it was a sign that he was either being completely serious or playing a ridiculous prank.
At that moment, Baek In-ha jumped high. So high that you couldn’t believe he was cast under movement-constriction magic.
As soon as they soared into the air by a few dozen meters, Kang Shin-hyuk smiled. He felt relaxed by the fresh air.
“Let’s get the captain.”
“Hey look, they’re shooting their magic skills at us. Looks like they’re setting off some sort of fireworks.”
“They’re not allowed to directly attack us anyway, and I should be free of the nerf soon.”
The magic handled by Magic majors was divided into two broad categories, offensive and defensive types of magic.
Among the defensive types, there were magical skills that nerfed the opponents’ movement in various ways, such as slowing their speed or disrupting their muscle coordination, which could only be prevented by special artifacts, skills or abundant magical power.
Since the use of artifacts was prohibited in the competition, it was obvious that Baek In-ha possessed a special ability or an enormous amount of magical power, or perhaps both.
“I found the captain’s headband. We’re going down.”
At that moment, Baek In-ha kicked the air, shooting himself and Kang Shin-hyuk to the ground. If they were to bump into anyone, it’d end up as a fatal accident. A tiny mistake could disqualify them!
But even under such pressure, Baek In-ha made a surprisingly good landing at an inch behind the White Team’s captain. It was so fast that nearly everyone had to take a second to understand what was going on.
But the captain of the White Team was different. He quickly turned around and stared straight into Kang Shin-hyuk’s eyes.
“Seems like a ridiculous rookie had enrolled this year. . . . .”
“Sorry, but it’s over.”
Before anyone realized, the captain’s headband was already in the possession of Kang Shin-hyuk’s hand.
The captain’s unit of the White Team was totally silent with their mouth wide open. The Fanged Wyvern Dance, a technique that was as smooth as water flow, was a skill that could also be used as a bare-handed martial art.
“Blue Team wins!”
“We won again!”
“Baek In-ha is going on a rampage!”
“Those 1st-years toyed with the 3rd-years! Crazy!”
“Kang Shin-hyuk, I knew you’d do it!”
“Baek In-ha! Baek In-ha!”
Kang Shin-hyuk gently got off Baek In-ha’s back and gave him a high five. It was the moment when the names of Kang Shin-hyuk and Baek In-ha were clearly ingrained in the minds of people.
“Dude, that was Baek In-ha’s carry, though.”
“Yeah, like you could do the same as Kang Shin-hyuk. You think a porter can become a warrior just by sitting on the dragon’s back?”
“Honestly, I couldn’t even see his hands. Is it really true that he can’t use mana?”
“No way, he must have awakened it last time. His mana must have awakened when his trait evolved.”
“But I can’t feel his mana at all. . . . . .”
“I don’t know, but. . . . . . Something. Something’s happening.”
Amid growing confusion among people over Kang Shin-hyuk’s unordinary performance, the cheers of his name became even louder and more abundant during his last match of the morning, the performing arts contest, where he lit the stage by performing the Fanged Wyvern Dance with various kinds of weapons.
People were particularly struck by the scene where he smashed his axe on the floor, took out the double pistol from his waist, and shot every one of the dozens of fragments that bounced into the air.
He had put a lot of thoughts into the choreography, and he was happy to contribute to the class by getting a high score.
“Waaah! How many martial arts has he mastered?”
“I think I’ve heard. It was said that his trait was his ability to handle all kinds of weapons. But since he couldn’t handle mana, he was more like a serpent without its pearl. . . . . .”
At this point, the audience and scouts from the large guilds began to pay attention to Kang Shin-hyuk.
Baek In-ha had played a large role in their victory in shoulder wars, but performing arts contest was his solo performance, so they could no longer doubt his skills.
“His ability was quite spectacular, no?”
“He’s grown quite a lot, I’m sure. Shinyoung must have taught a thing or two to him.”
“Seems like there’s one more name I should remember. . . . . .”
“There should be an interesting spectacle at the end of sports day.”
Kang Shin-hyuk left the stage, receiving the cheers of Shinyoung’s students as well as the attention of the outside audience.
That was the end of the morning game. It was now lunchtime.
Thanks to his ‘Recovery,’ he was able to perform all the games in perfect condition, but the side effect had kicked in and he was now ravenously hungry.
But as Kang Shin-hyuk was walking to join Baek In-ha while grabbing his stomach, his stick suddenly rang.
[Bartender Noona: You were pretty cool in shoulder wars. But the problem was that you were too cool. Eunah was staring at you as if she was trying to punch a hole with her stare.]
[Kang Shin-hyuk: Honestly, I’ve given up on that matter. My score is more important than Ms. Shin Eunah.]
[Bartender Noona: Even when you compare to the troubles you’d have to bear with your identity revealed?]
Objectively speaking, Kang Shin-hyuk’s performance today was enough to draw a lot of attention.
Of course, many students in other competitions pulled off striking performances of their own, but he was confident that if someone made a list of ten 1st-year students who stood out the most that day, he would be included.
After hesitating for a moment to reply, Kang Shin-hyuk asked her a question.
[Kang Shin-hyuk: Uh, did she notice I’m Anvil?]
[Bartender Noona: I don’t think she’s noticed that yet, fortunately.]
[[Kang Shin-hyuk: So she doesn’t wield spirit power either.]
[Bartender Noona: What, you used your spirit energy!?]
[[Kang Shin-hyuk: If you didn’t notice, you have a lot more to practice.]
[Bartender sister: This bastard. . . . . .]
Clearly, Claire was a powerhouse who belonged to Top 500 of the World Superhuman Ranking, but she was far below Kang Shin-hyuk in the field of spiritual power. He had a lot to teach her.
Kang Shin-hyuk laughed as he imagined Claire’s shaking face beyond the screen and suddenly realized that a girl was looking at him.
“Hey, just call me Karen. By the way, was that your girlfriend?”
“No, I just know her.”
Kang Shin-hyuk hurriedly turned off the hologram that rose above the stick. Karen’s eyes became thinner.
“Hm. . . . . . Suspicious, the way you were smiling and all. . . . . . I didn’t expect that you’d find a girlfriend from outside, leaving the elite Shinyoung Academy alone.”
“She’s not my girlfriend. Though it’s true that I don’t intend to find one at Shinyoung.”
“Oh. . . . . . Hm.”
Considering her subtly shifting expression, she seemed to have properly understood the meaning behind that sentence.
“I thought I’d talk to you about that.”
Of course, she could have let those words fly by, but Karen, after hesitating for a moment, shrugged her shoulders and continued.
“You know. . . . . . Could you understand, at least a little? Everyone, including me, was very proud of themselves for belonging to an elite organization such as Shinyoung. The fact that it was so hard to get into the school encouraged our sense of entitlement. . . . . . But then when we came to Shinyoung, we found out that there was a student who couldn’t use mana.”
Kang Shin-hyuk raised his eyebrows.
“That’s right, so I tried harder than you guys to get in. As such, even though I was weaker than everyone else and couldn’t handle mana, I was still a student who passed Shinyoung’s cut-off score.”
“No, no, of course, I have no intention of disparaging your efforts. It’s true that we were naive. I just think we failed to understand or accept it–you know, the actual value of your trait. Or maybe it’s more correct to say that we didn’t even try to understand.]
Kang Shin-hyuk knew very well that Karen was choosing her words in her favor.
Still, he didn’t bother to tackle her further. Karen finished with a slightly relieved look as he shrugged.
“Well, in the end, you proved that everyone who disregarded you was a fool. In a single day, to add.”
“Does that include you?”
“Of course. Uhm, if I apologize, will you accept it?”
“No, I don’t think an apology will do the job.”
“I guess there’s a long way to go, then.”
Karen sighed again at Kang Shin-hyuk’s decisive response. It was a somewhat expected outcome, but she couldn’t help feeling disappointed.
Not to Kang Shin-hyuk who closed his heart, but to herself for her ugly behavior in the past.
“Let’s eat together at least. I bought a lot from the food truck, and it’d be a waste to throw them away.”
“. . . . . . Sure, why not.”
A person could be guilty, but food was never in the wrong. Seeing the American hot dogs, takoyaki, cube steaks, and chicken skewers in her plastic bags–she had apparently swept the food truck’s entire menu–his stomach began to growl again, so he accepted Karen’s offer straight away.
“Shall we sit over there?”
Needless to say, the total area of Shinyoung was enormous.
Most of the area except for the school and dormitory buildings were occupied by playgrounds or labs and a small forest named “Blackwood,” with the others occupied by well-decorated parks and walkways.
Kang Shin-hyuk and Karen began eating on a bench near the forest.
“Looking at that forest reminded me of a question.”
“What is it?”
Kang Shin-hyuk said with an uncertain tone while biting into the hotdog. Karen, who wanted to become friends with him, took his words with a curious expression.
“There’s a separate training facility for the Wyvern Knights in the woods, right?”
“The Blackwood Training Center? That’s a special facility given to the Wyvern Knights. What about it?”
“Is it true that they raise a wyvern there?”
“Oh, my. . . . . .”
Kang Shin-hyuk picked up three takoyaki at once, put them in his mouth, and mumbled while feeling impressed.
In fact, the story has been around before. The story of how Wyvern Knights became Wyvern Knights.
This was the story shortly after Shinyoung was established. A student from Shinyoung had coincidentally succeeded in capturing a wyvern and tamed it while attending school.
To everyone’s surprise, the student declared that he would hand over the wyvern to the one who beat him in a duel, and those who wanted the wyvern along with the glory of victory gathered and challenged him for a match.
They were all defeated, and the Wyvern Knights was founded by the group that had the wyvern’s owner as the leader. Kang Shin-hyuk didn’t believe the story as it sounded like a plot that’d only occur in a comic book, but if the Wyvern Knights actually possessed a wyvern, the credibility of the story would increase.
“I’ve heard that a wyvern is at least a (B) rank, so it wouldn’t be possible to tame it without a special trait or a skill suitable for the job, right?”
“Well, there’s a special artifact that’s handed out to the club’s captain that allows you to tame the wyvern. That’s why if you become the captain of the Wyvern Knights, you can be the owner of the wyvern while you attend the school. He can’t take it to the school’s dungeon practice, but during the 2nd/3rd year, there’s a self-study assignment called Gate Expedition, where they’re allowed to use the wyvern because the mark for the assignment is purely based on the results rather than the methods. It’s almost like a cheat key.”
“. . . . . . Hey, then the captains shouldn’t want to graduate.”
“That’s how I think too.”
Karen grinned and ate her share of the cup salad. Kang Shin-hyuk put the stick of the finished chicken skewer in a plastic bag while thinking to himself that the amount of food wasn’t enough for a Knight major.
“So what’s this thing you wanted to talk about?”
Next was the cube steak. Since a steak had to be finished before it got cold, he had to throw it whole in his mouth and ask the questions while chewing.
On the surface, it looked no different from the cube steak sold at a food truck along the Han River, but it was different in terms of how juicy it tasted. It was definitely a A++ quality stripoli.
While Kang Shin-hyuk was waiting for the answer, savoring the aroma and taste of the meat, Karen tilted her head with a cherry tomato in her mouth. Kang Shin-hyuk smiled and asked her again.
“What you were originally going to talk to me about. You didn’t want to come out here just to eat.”
“Oh, was it obvious?”
Karen scraped her cheek with her hand that was holding a fork, realizing that Kang Shin-hyuk had read her mind. In the meantime, Kang Shin-hyuk was taking off the hamburger wrapper after cleaning up the plate that previously contained the steak.
“Not a big deal, but something related to the Wyvern Knights. You told me before that I should talk to you when I have the chance. I saw from your performances today that your worth is indeed going to be increased, so I’m taking the chance to get close to you as much as I can.”
“Those performances were not that superb, though.”
“No way, everyone was shocked. To put it bluntly, our vice-captain has a lot of interest in you. She said that on top of your great physical stats, there are a lot of potentials in your fighting techniques.”
Who was the vice-captain of the Wyvern Knights? Kang Shin-hyuk wondered while munching the hamburger. Karen put a bottle of coke in his hand, which he drank in one shot after finishing the hamburger in a single gulp.
“I’m afraid I can’t remember who the vice-captain is. Was she in 2nd-year?”
“Yeah. She’s famous as Shinyoung’s strongest Lancer.”
“Oh, yeah. I think I saw her at the entrance ceremony.”
Karen drooped her shoulders as if discouraged by Kang Shin-hyuk’s lukewarm response. The exaggerated body movements of a Westerner felt fresh and pleasant to Kang Shin-hyuk.
“Phew, . . . . . . Anyway, our vice-captain wants to meet you, and if possible, she wants you to join the Wyvern Knights.”
“I’m not really interested, actually.”
“But think about it. If you join the Wyvern Knights, you’d become a great force for our vice-captain faction.”
Kang Shin-hyuk felt a poignant sensation in his ears from the words “vice-captain faction.” He asked after taking a Liege waffle from his mouth.
“Is that tiny club divided into two factions?”
“I’m afraid so. The captain doesn’t like our vice-captain. But we can’t just use force against the captain because the captain is. . . . . .”
“No, no, don’t share an internal affair with an outsider like me.”
Kang Shin-hyuk cut her off, concerned that he might become involved in the situation by learning about their internal conflicts. Karen took out her stick with a disappointed look.
“In commemoration of our friendship, let’s at least exchange numbers.”
“You’re not intending to text me about the inside story, are you?”
“I can’t talk about it through text, so relax.”
Only after hearing her reassurance that he would never be forced to enroll into their club, Kang Shin-hyuk took out his stick. But while he was busy eating and talking, three text messages had been sent to his stick.
“Like I said, no.”
Kang Shin-hyuk checked the text message. One came from Baek In-ha and the other two from Claire.
But their contents were. . . . . .
[Baek In-ha: I, Baek In-ha, will never forgive a traitor like you.]
[Bartender Noona: You denied it all this time, but I can see you on a date~~.
[Bartender Noona: Wait. Oh god.]
Kang Shin-hyuk raised his head at that very moment.
About five meters away from him stood the Thunder Empress Shin Eunah.
She was staring at him with an indescribable, queer look.
(1) In the usual sports day’s shoulder wars, there are four people supporting the flag bearer. This game also seems to be the version where each team consists of many units (pairs, in this case), and one unit is designated the “captain” headband. So a team wins either by stealing as many headbands from the opposite team as possible or by simply stealing the captain’s headband.
(2) A slang term for “exceptional people.” “Gira” is the Japanese word for “shiny” and so “Gira stars” literally translates to “a night sky brimming with stars,” meant to say “full of exceptional people.”