1

Early in the morning, in the freshmen dormitory building in Eungwang High’s residential area.

Before her band-type device vibrated an alarm, Hani woke up and opened her eyes.

As soon as she did, the device vibrated, letting her know that she woke up just in time.

Hani recalled the contents of her dream the previous night.

‘…It’s the same dream again.’

Hani often had the same dream over and over again since she started going to school.

A dream where a blindfolded person looks down at Hani.

The figure of that person was getting clearer, but it was still difficult for her to properly lip-read and understand what they were saying.

‘What did he say? I think I recognized a word this time though…’

Hani retraced her memory and recalled the blindfolded figure’s words.

If an average person had the same dream as Hani did, they would’ve passed it off as simply a person with a blindfold on.

They wouldn’t try to decipher what the person was trying to say.

However, Hani was someone who was used to lip reading, and her observation skills and memory were among the best among players.

‘I think he repeated the same word many times. I felt like he kept saying the same word until I understand it…’

Hani thought about that ‘unknown person’ even as she trained Taehokwon.

She recalled the movement of their lips and guessed how the blurry shape would’ve moved according to the manner that the person’s lips shook.

After a few dozen of repetitions in her head, Hani became convinced

When a certain word came to mind, Hani unknowingly stopped in the middle of the ‘tiger step’ movement, a basic movement in Taehokwon.

‘That’s right. I think the word he was repeating was ‘identity’. It must be urging me to become aware of an ‘identity’. It’s a blindfolded person so I’m already bothered even if he didn’t say the word ‘identity’, but why was he saying it…?’

Finally realizing what the blindfolded person said, Hani’s thoughts became deeper.

She was unmoving for a long while thinking about it.

Meanwhile, Gong Cheonghwon, Hani’s Taehokwon adviser, stood in front of her.

Although Hani was known for being sensitive to other people’s presence, she was so lost in thought that she didn’t realize that the teacher was in front of her.

After silently waiting for Hani to notice, Gong Cheonghwon finally released some energy wave.

Fwaaa!

Hani raised her head after detecting the powerful energy wave close by.

She saw Gong Cheonghwon’s face beyond the energy wave that sparked but quickly disappeared.

“What a relief. No matter how distracted your concentration was, I wouldn’t have let it slide if you weren’t able to detect that kind of an energy wave.”

Since players are always at the forefront of fighting against enemies and otherworlds, energy wave detection was something necessary for every player to have.

Hani was relieved that her senses worked albeit late, but she eventually felt guilty that she didn’t feel Gong Cheonghwon’s approach at first.

And the fact that she was unable to focus on practicing Taehokwon.

“I was thinking of something else. I’m sorry…”

When Hani apologized right away, Gong Cheonghwon decided not to reprimand her.

Instead, he talked to Hani, who fixed her long-gone proper posture.

“I watched yesterday’s broadcast of Playlist. I heard what happened.”

Hani knew that Gong Cheonghwon would eventually watch Dokgo Miro’s performance since the two know each other, but it seems like Gong Cheonghwon managed to watch the broadcast and heard what happened at the station despite his busy schedule.

Gong Cheongwon praised Hani for her hard work.

“Hani, I know you’re not used to fighting without equipment, but you fought for Miro and the people at the station, right? Good work.”

“…Thank you.”

Even if she couldn’t hear his voice, Hani knew her teacher’s voice must’ve been filled with warmth.

Hani also smiled softly.

From there, the other Taehokwon students talked about the otherworld spawning at the station and they all praised Hani.

As a result, the Taehokwon morning training that day was quite loose, but Gong Cheonghwon decided to turn a blind eye to it.

“Alright. See you all in class.”

“Yes…!”

Thanks to Gong Cheonghwon’s and her classmates’ words, Hani went to class feeling somewhat better.

‘I’m still confused, but I’ll be fine.’

A recurring dream of someone repeatedly saying a word.

Dokgo Miro losing the finals of Playlist.

And something bothering her about her past with Dokgo Miro.

On top of that, Jung Haeon wanting to talk to her about Dokgo Miro.

Hani had a lot on her mind, but it seems that some of them just might be resolved today.

‘I’ll know more after talking with Jung Haeon sunbaenim after classes today…’

Keeping in mind the agreed time and place with Jung Haeon, Hani headed to her classroom.

She went to school somewhat early, but there were already other kids in her class when she arrived.

They welcomed her when they saw her enter the classroom, and she was naturally included in the ongoing conversation.

Their topic was their classmates who weren’t at school.

“So Daesok won’t come to school today?”

“Yeah, I think he’s busy with work at the association’s lab.”

“I guess there’s a lot of work for him to do then.”

Kim Yuri soothed Min Geurin, who was feeling a little lonely.

She doesn’t make it as obvious as Song Daesok does, but she seemed disappointed that they spent less time with each other.

Mok Wooram almost asked a naive question about the two being lovers, but Maeng Hyodon stopped him in time.

Their class agreed to refrain from pushing the two to date and just wait and see how things turn out.

“Lena? Is your device broken? You’ve been looking at a blank hologram for a while now.”

Kwon Lena took her eyes off the hologram and smiled awkwardly.

“Huh? Oh, I can’t contact my unnie so… I guess she’s been busy with work since yesterday.”

“The association took the Namgung C&T employees who were at the station yesterday. I don’t think the investigation is over yet.”

“These kinds of investigations usually take a long time. Don’t worry too much.”

Kwon Lena nodded and turned off her hologram, to the comfort of her classmates.

And then, the door opened and a bright Saeum of April arrived.

“Hello, everyone! I just met Yeom Junyeol sunbaenim on my way to school!”

The topic naturally changed to Saeum of April’s journey to school.

Hwangho, who was silently listening to the kids in class, joined the conversation at the mention of “Yeom Junyeol sunbaenim”

“Was Jo Euishin with him?”

“Hm? Euishin wasn’t with him?”

“…What about our assistant homeroom teacher? The Year One Class One homeroom teacher?”

“Professor Yong Jegun and Professor Kim Shinrok? No, they weren’t with him.”

Hearing Saeum of April’s answer, Hwangho turned silent again.

Kim Yuri, who belongs to the same organization as Yeom Junyeol, asked instead.

“Professor Yong Jegun wasn’t there? I think he and Yeom Junyeol sunbaenim go to school together every day though.”

“He wasn’t with him today. Oh, I saw an air shuttle with the Red Lion’s team logo on it in front of the school gate, and it seemed like the team master, Red King, was on it!”

“Red King… Isn’t that Yeom Junyeol sunbaenim’s father?”

“Yes! I think he wanted to accompany sunbaenim inside, but when sunbaenim stopped him, he just waited in front of the school gate.”

Everyone could imagine what the scene looked like.

All of them knew how much Yeom Bangyeol adored his son.

Well, since the Red Lion Team was one of the world’s top ten professional player teams, it could be considered an internationally-known fact.

“Yeom Junyeol sunbaenim asked about the otherworlds that spawned at the station, and I also asked about things I was curious about.”

As for what questions Saeum of April asked, most of the kids in the class could guess what they were, except maybe for the few tactless guys.

Jo Euishin’s whereabouts.

Jo Euishin went to join Yeom Junyeol, but they never returned to the studio.

Saeum of April is known to follow Jo Euishin well since the youth retreat, so it’s obvious that he’d ask Yeom Junyeol for his whereabouts.

“Did he say what happened to Euishin?”

Kim Yuri went straight to the point, to which Saeum of April answered eagerly.

“He didn’t explain in detail, but there must’ve been some trouble on Yeom Junyeol sunbaenim’s side. Euishin was taken to the Dragon Clan’s residence to rest. I don’t think he’ll be coming to school today.”

“So Euishin and Daesok are absent today? Professor Ham Geunhyung would be sad.”

Kim Yuri mentioned Ham Geunhyung, but it seems like Kim Yuri herself looked greatly sad about it.

“Oh right, Euishin’s not here so we can talk about this. Guys, are you busy on the weekend?”

“I don’t have plans. What’s up with this weekend?”

“Oh, it’s October 31st on Saturday. Are you thinking of hosting a Halloween party? If we’re having a party, it would be nice to have Miro around.”

“But what does Euishin not being here have to do with Halloween?”

“Hahaha, I’m not talking about Halloween.”

Kim Yuri looked wary as if she was worried that Jo Euishin would suddenly spawn out of nowhere.

She looked at the door before speaking in a hushed voice.

Hwangho seemed to know already what it was about, while the other kids scootched closer in curiosity.

“You know, it’s Euishin’s birthday this Sunday!”

* * *

Hearing my proposal, Kim Shinrok looked flustered and troubled.

I could sense that there was a deep-rooted self-deprecating attitude on his troubled face.

“I think your intentions are good, Jo Euishin-gun. Sung Gukeon is a member of the National Assembly that’s supposed to represent the voice of the people, correct? It’s not good to see a figure like that alienating the royal lineage and their descendants. He’ll have to accept things someday. However…”

Kim Shinrok looked down at the piece of porcelain wrapped in Yong Jegun’s jade-colored space.

“…I don’t think the reason should be me.”

Kim Shinrok flat-out rejected.

I expected that he might refuse, but his resolve seemed stronger than anticipated.

“May I ask why?”

Kim Shinrok answered with a voice that became progressively hushed.

“…In a negative light, that kid is stubborn. To put it in more positive words, he’s self-directed.”

Kim Shinrok referred to Sung Gukeon as “that kid”

I’ve only known Sung Gukeon as this adult charismatic lawmaker, but Kim Shinrok seems to secretly think of him as a kid.

“What I say won’t change his mind. Rather, I think it’s possible that his finding out my true identity would be for naught. It would make him warier of people of royal lineage and descendants.”

Kim Shinrok turned silent as if he had nothing more to say.

The silence extended over a few seconds.

Covering his smile with one hand, Yong Jegun was looking at me seeming like he was anticipating my response.

‘Kim Shinrok knew Sung Gukeon when he was a high school student, so I guess it’s natural that he’d think that way.’

Maybe Kim Shinrok secretly tried to avoid knowing about Sung Gukeon’s more recent activities.

I decided to let him know about the current Sung Gukeon that I know.

“Do you remember how Sung Gukeon sunbaenim was with Professor Ham Geunhyung?”

“…It wasn’t very good. Professor Ham Geunhyung was a man of principle, while Sung Gukeon was somewhat naughty. They were like water and oil.:

Kim Shinrok’s words seemed heavy.

More than that, can we really describe Sung Gukeon as “somewhat naughty”?

Anyway, I decided to tell him what I witnessed.

“The two of them met in Hongcheon recently.”

I talked about Ham Geunhyung and Sung Gukeon’s recent encounter.

Kim Shinrok’s expression gradually changed as I continued to speak.