1

Turning to the source of the sound, I saw a broken chopstick scattered through the pieces of the broken porcelain bowl.

He must’ve put so much strength on the chopstick and the bowl that the two broke at the same time.

It doesn’t seem like Kim Shinrok immediately understood what was going on, and he looked puzzled when he finally saw the pieces of the broken tableware.

Being a teacher among humans, he managed to quickly hide his expression, but Yong Jegun and I already took notice of his agitation.

‘A descendant forgetting how to control his strength… there’s no way.’

Kim Shinrok was clearly shaken by what Yong Jegun said.

‘Is there something between Kim Shinrok and Sung Gukeon? No, maybe it’s something between Yong Jegun and Sung Gukeon.’

I tried to find a point of contact between the three using my knowledge of the story from PMH, but since Kim Shinrok died in the prologue without his name even being mentioned, I don’t think I’d remember anything.

In the end, I need to completely guess what the three have in common just by their personalities and backgrounds.

The easiest one for me to understand was Sung Gukeon.

‘Sung Gukeon isn’t fond of the royal lineage and their descendants. Looking at people with his energy-infused eyes, he can see right through them.’

He used it to see whether I was human or not.

It was only after he was convinced that I was human did Sung Gukeon deactivate his ability.

‘Yong Jegun is of royal lineage, and Kim Shinrok is a descendant. Yong Jegun doesn’t hide his identity.’

Even if Yong Jegun or Kim Shinrok once crossed paths with Sung Gukeon, I don’t think Sung Gukeon would’ve welcomed them.

But there’s one common point between the three.

‘Did they meet in Eungwang High? As teachers and a student?’

Kim Shinrok was around the same batch as Professor Ham Geunhyung, but I know the latter has more experience than him.

Professor Ham Geunhyung met Sung Gukeon, who was then in his third year, when he first took office.

That means Kim Shinrok, who became a teacher a little bit later than Ham Geunhyung, wouldn’t have come in contact with Sung Gukeon.

Sung Gukeon must’ve already graduated when Kim Shinrok was appointed to Eungwang High.

‘But just as Hwang Jiho assumes several names and identities, so did Kim Shinrok. Maybe he met Sung Gukeon before he changed his identity to Kim Shinrok? If so, it’s possible that they met as a student and teacher.’

I could only guess so much, but assuming that my guess what correct, I could reach a plausible hypothesis.

I continued thinking.

‘What if he exceeded the life span of a normal human being, or his true colors were found out? In that case, wouldn’t he have to disappear? Erase his identity by pretending to be dead or missing?’

If my assumption was correct, that means Sung Gukeon must’ve lost a teacher at a young age.

Sung Gukeon didn’t live his high school life under the radar.

It’s hard to imagine how much Sung Gukeon would’ve suffered if a teacher who he had affection for died or disappeared suddenly when he was a teenager.

If that really is the relationship between them, I can see why Kim Shinrok is so agitated.

‘…No, all of my guesses could be wrong too. I don’t have enough information and clues to figure out what really happened.’

For further clues and information, I think I can get from Yong Jegun.

I thought he would tell me the reason why he mentioned Sung Gukeon’s name in front of me and Kim Shinrok.

“…Ah.”

Kim Shinrok, who spaced out for a while, tried to repair the bowl with a flustered face.

But there was someone that moved faster than Kim Shinrok.

Fwak! Fwaaaa!

The area around Kim Shinrok became covered with large and small jade-colored spaces.

Yong Jegun used his spatial skill to fetch the pieces of broken tableware.

Even though the porcelain bowl was shattered into fine pieces, Yong Jegun was able to use his skill to repair the bowl without leaving any pieces off.

“I was the one who broke it. I’ll handle it.”

“No, I broke it.”

“Yeah. You did. Because of what you said.”

Yong Jegun spoke very gently to the subject that had shaken Kim Shinrok.

Kim Shinrok seemed to want to say something else, but Yong Jegun ignored him as he ordered new dishes.

It’s very like him to be the cause of trouble yet also the one who fixes it.

When Kim Shinrok was about to eat again, Yong Jegun dropped another bomb.

“I think Euishin already noticed what the relationship between Gukeon and Shinrok is.”

Drop! Break!

The sound of Kim Shinrok throwing something and Yong Jegun quickly putting up a space around him was heard.

“Euishin knows your true colors, and he’s also had exchanges with Gukeon. And I’m thinking of meeting Gukeon. Given all that, Euishin must’ve figured it out already. I think you better say it yourself. There’s nothing to hide anyway.”

Hearing Yong Jegun’s words, I think my guesses were pretty much accurate.

Kim Shinrok threw a few more tacks at Yong Jegun, but the latter blocked all of them well with his spatial skill.

He stopped attacking Yong Jegun and turned his head to look at me, not wanting to see Yong Jegun’s ecstatic face.

“What is your guess, Jo Euishin-gun?”

This is greatly related to Kim Shinrok’s personal history, but I don’t think he’d be happy if I tried to feign ignorance when I already have a sound hypothesis.

‘Even if I pretend that I don’t know, Yong Jegun would squeeze the answer from me with his unique way of speaking.’

Looking at Yong Jegun’s face, he seems to be very pleased with this situation.

I knew it was useless for me to try to avoid the subject.

I felt a little sorry for Kim Shinrok, but I gave an honest summary of my thoughts.

“If Professor Kim Shinrok worked at Eungwang High under a different name, I think there is a high possibility that he would’ve met Sung Gukeon sunbaenim. I’m guessing that Professor Yong Jegun also met Sung Gukeon sunbaenim in Eungwang High too.”

At the end of my words, the stark difference between Yong Jegun’s ecstasy and Kim Shinrok’s sorrow was painfully obvious.

Seeing Yong Jegun dying from happiness, I think my guess was right.

He was considerate enough to slightly turn his head so that Kim Shinrok wouldn’t see, but Kim Shinrok probably knows all too well what his face looks like.

Kim Shinrok sighed in defeat.

“…Yes. Sung Gukeon was my student. My name was different but I was also a teacher back then, and I taught Sung Gukeon at that time when he was in high school.”

Kim Shinrok’s face looked bitter with a faint hint of longing.

It’s clear that Kim Shinrok cherished Sung Gukeon too.

His expression made me think of another guess.

‘Was Kim Shinrok his homeroom teacher?’

Sung Gukeon said he was in Class Zero all three years of high school.

Homeroom teachers are usually switched every year, but for the Class Zero freaks and troublemakers, their advisor is unchanged for their whole stay at Eungwang High.

‘If he was his homeroom teacher for three years, I can see why they have affection for each other.’

I reached that conclusion and decided to ask.

“Were you perhaps a Class Zero homeroom teacher?”

“…Yes. I was Sung Gukeon’s homeroom teacher for three years. I tried to avoid being a homeroom teacher for Class Zero, but I couldn’t help it since there was no other teacher who could handle Sung Gukeon.”

Sung Gukeon must’ve been treated as a legend from the moment he stepped on Eungwang High.

It’s hard to compare, but Sung Gukeon has this crazy energy similar to Geum Chansol and Wang Chansol, and he has excellent grades just like Do Wonwoo and Woo Kihwan.

“Sung Gukeon was an impressive student. He was living a life that embodied the childhood of a great man.”

Kim Shinrok spoke of his old student Sung Gukeon.

“I thought I kept my distance, but Sung Gukeon followed me a lot. Do you know that he has the ability to see if a person is of royal lineage or a descendant? Sung Gukeon trusted me so much that he never even used that ability on me.”

Kim Shinrok, disguised as a human being, is a descendant of the Tiger Clan and Bear Clan.

In other words, an identity that Sung Gukeon despised.

Hearing his words now, it’s clear that Kim Shinrok knew of Sung Gukeon’s hatred for the royal lineage and their descendants.

“I didn’t want to build close relationships with the teachers and the students since I was under a disguise… When he was in third grade, I realized that I made a mistake when I saw Sung Gukeon trusting me and consulting me about the founding of the Jiikhoe.”

Eungwang High after Sung Gukeon became the student council president was like a battlefield.

The atmosphere in the school was deteriorating, teachers were divided, and conflicts between students and teachers intensified.

So it seems that Sung GUkeon trusted and followed his homeroom teacher, Kim Shinrok.

Kim Shinrok intentionally went on frequent business trips to keep his distance and try to pass on his student to Ham Geunhyung, but his attempts were futile.

“Sung Gukeon said he would visit me often, and said that he’d look for me during his graduation. That’s why I decided to quickly dispose of my identity, even though it was a little early.”

“…Dispose?”

“After the graduation ceremony, I silently pretended to have fallen from a disease.”

That’s like stabbing Sung Gukeon with a knife.

Being a teacher that Sung Gukeon followed and trusted, his sudden death must’ve literally killed Sung Gukeon.

Kim Shinrok describes his being too close to Sung Gukeon as a “mistake”, but I think the true mistake here is what he did.

But that opinion may be from Sung Gukeon’s point of view.

If I were in Kim Shinrok’s shoes, I might have acted similarly.

Kim Shinrok turned quiet.

As if he had been waiting for silence, Yong Jegun began to speak.

“I was the chief mourner of the funeral. It would be weird if Jeokho-ssi or the Tiger Clan attended, right? So as his coworker and friend, I became the chief mourner.”

Yong Jegun?!

The chief mourner?!

The thought itself was unimaginable, but seeing that Kim Shinrok wasn’t refuting it, it must be true.

“I didn’t even inform Eungwang High of a funeral so that his death could be as quiet as possible. They didn’t have a problem with that since they respect it. But Gukeon somehow knew about it and gathered some students to come and pay respects.”

Kim Shinrok’s closed his eyes tightly.

He also seemed to know that Sung Gukeon attended his fake funeral.

“Gukeon resented me, saying that I simply watched Shinrok die. It’s the first time I saw Gukeon lose his composure and scream like that.’

Sung Gukeon wasn’t the type to lose his composure in a fight.

No matter what dogfight occurs in the National Assembly, he’s known to just smile and cope with it with a relaxed face.

But he screamed and yelled at Yong Jegun on the day of the funeral?

I can see now how much Sung Gukeon must’ve liked Kim Shinrok and just how sad he was.

Looking at his reaction now, it’s clear that Kim Shinrok feels guilty about it and he seems to miss his student too.

‘But considering Kim Shinrok’s personality, there’s no way he would step up. He was like that too with his father.’

I looked at Yong Jegun who brought up this topic.

He was looking at me with expectant eyes.

‘…Is there anything I could do? No, is it even okay for me to intervene here?’

In the end, I was thinking about the specifics of it all without me realizing it.

Sung Gukeon’s traditional values.

Kim Shinrok’s choice and fake identity.

Yong Jegun’s reaction.

My favor to Yeom Bangyeol.

Putting all those things together and contemplating for a while, I finally had something to say.

“Professor Kim Shinrok, I want to propose something.”