Chapter 19 - Criminals
Seo Tae-hyuk had two secrets.
One was that he had lived for 15 years longer than other people his age. Of course, those 15 years weren’t exactly happy.
He was framed and went to jail. He lived in fear of the death penalty. Every day in prison seemed like hell. The memories of those times were still in his head.
However, Seo Tae-hyuk now considered himself a ‘high school student’, rather than a ‘death row inmate.’ It was good in some ways.
What if it wasn’t just the previous memories that were still in his head, but the previous personality as well? If it were so, he would be in a mental hospital, not a school.
Another secret of his was the fact that he could use his ‘crime skills.’ Tae-hyuk manipulated the Demon Revealing Mirror to show his current skills.
He had currently acquired three crime skills.
Robbery, his first skill. He could steal the items of anyone that he bumped into. He had used affinity points to upgrade the skill, making it so that he could select which item to steal.
Voice Modulation, his second. A skill that could perfectly imitate the voices of others.
Finally, Spying, his third, which he could use to see the abilities and titles of others.
There weren’t just crime skills in existence. As he could see from An Eun-young’s example, there were other skills out there. That alone meant one thing - that the talents and abilities of individuals were shown in the form of skills.
If so, it was odd.
'Why am I able to use crime skills?’
He only had three at the moment, but he would be able to learn more in the future.
He was suspicious of his title. Tae-hyuk clicked on the title in the Demon Revealing Mirror, and an explanation came up.
[God of Crime]
-You can make use of all criminal skills.
Somehow, it seemed like he could learn and use the skills of other criminals due to his title.
However, the ability was based on his rating. Currently, Tae-hyuk was a Commoner. It was the lowest rating, so there were various of restrictions.
Tae-hyuk confirmed the new upgrade conditions.
[Create a blacklist, 1/1]
[Secured the people on the blacklist, 3/20]
[Make all stats over 50 points.]
If he cleared all three of these conditions, then he could raise his rating. He would be able to do more once he upgraded to a Noble.
Tae-hyuk knew his future. If he did nothing and sat idly, then the same reality that he previously experienced would be repeated. He would be framed again and would go to jail for the second time. His sister Ha-ran and younger brother Tae-min would receive the same tragic ends.
However, if he changed the present, then the future would also change. Tae-hyuk had caught one of the people on the blacklist, Yoo Cheol-ho, and saved the lives of three people.
It was clear that this could also be applied to himself.
"Then first of all, I need to upgrade my personal rating.’
Currently, he had only secured three people on the blacklist.
However, hundreds of people still remained. Among those on the list were terrorists who killed hundreds of people, as well as the leader of a pseudo-religion cult with thousands of believers.
Confronting them with his current set of skills was impossible.
‘I need the ability to catch people on my blacklist. However, don’t I need to catch people on the blacklist to get an upgrade? It is like employers not hiring inexperienced workers. This is just a painful regression!’
Tae-hyuk decided to do what he could first. There was still one upgrade condition apart from the blacklist, and that was to raise his stats above a certain threshold.
These were Tae-hyuk’s current stats.
Stats: Stamina (63), Intelligence (14), Agility (24), Dexterity (31)
His stats were slightly different from when he first received the Spying skill.
First of all, his stamina had decreased by one, while his agility had gone up by two, and his intelligence by 10. His rise in intelligence was due to constantly studying with An Eun-young.
By the way, it was strange that his stamina had decreased, while his agility had increased.
Why had such a thing occurred?
‘Hum hum. I am an energetic high school student. It can’t be helped!’
Anyway, it had been a week since his suspension, and he had already studied and raised his intelligence by 10 points. This increase rate wouldn’t have been possible without An Eun-young’s studying skill. If he kept doing it at this rate, then he would be able to raise it to 50 points during his suspension period.
“Tae-hyuk, are you okay?”
An Eun-young came in holding a bag of ice.
At this moment, Tae-hyuk felt dizzy. Come to think of it, he was currently alone in a room with a girl. Of course, this wasn’t his purpose, as he was here to study with An Eun-young. Still, he couldn’t help being nervous.
"Just how much did you study? You suddenly got a nosebleed."
Tae-hyuk pulled out the tissue blocking his nose and said.
"No, I don’t think I got the nosebleed from that. The meal...”
Tae-hyuk recalled the dinner that An Eun-young had prepared.
Turtle soup, grilled eel, fried pork liver, bokbunja juice. They were energetic and were really good. Eating such things had caused his blood to overflow.
An Eun-young’s expression darkened.
“Um... Do you not like the taste?”
"That isn’t it. I-It is just a little much.’
“Stamina is important for studying! I made these dishes because they are good for your stamina...”
“Ah, no! It is delicious!”
“R-really? I’m glad! How is your stamina? Isn’t it going up?”
It didn’t seem to have a good effect on his stamina.
Tae-hyuk couldn’t tell the truth to An Eun-young who was smiling so innocently.
The ice pack was placed on his head to cool down his hot body.
An Eun-young declared with a smile.
“Then, let’s start learning!”
An Eun-young had taken off her uniform and was only wearing a thin dress. Now that the test had ended, her dark circles were almost gone. The hidden innocent and cute appearance of hers was revealed.
Tae-hyuk swallowed his saliva.
* * *
An Eun-young’s private lesson ended at 10 p.m. Tae-hyuk exerted great patience and studied well until the end.
'Well, since I am getting help from her studying skill...’
His other stats weren’t rising this quickly. Intelligence had increased by 10 and his score on the mock test rose by nearly 20 points. He really might be able to reach the high rankings in the whole school in just a month.
‘By the way, I never thought that Park Sung-kwang would actually drop out.’
Today was the day that Park Sung-kwang’s disciplinary committee would be held. Obviously, the result would be similar to Tae-hyuk’s.
However, Park Sung-kwang hadn’t come to school since a week ago, and today he had suddenly dropped out.
‘Well. He did trust in his father too much.’
Park Seong-ho and his secretary, Lee Ki-hwan, were both criminals on the blacklist. It was lucky that he could secure two people at once.
However, there was a bitter taste in his mouth.
Lee Ki-hwan was different from other criminals, as he only followed the orders of Park Seong-ho. However, the end result was still a crime. In the end, he acted according to his conscience. Despite the handcuffs, his face looked satisfied, because he no longer needed to get his hands dirty.
Originally, it would have taken a few more years for Lee Ki-hwan to do this. His hands would have become even dirtier.
Tae-hyuk was able to finish matters before all of that even happened.
The series of events started with cheating, and ended with a politician and his secretary being arrested.
Tae-hyuk had watched the TV as Park Seong-ho and Lee Ki-hwan were handcuffed. He then received two affinity points. He thought back to Yoo Cheol-ho, and recalled the two people killed by Lee Ki-hwan that were saved.
'Currently I only caught three people? What about the hippo and the clown?’
They were people on the blacklist that he would meet soon. This wasn’t a game, and the criminals didn’t appear in order from weakest to strongest.
‘There is a chance I might meet the final boss at the beginning.’
There would be no way for him to deal with them with his current abilities.
His head hurt. If he had a colleague who he could share everything with...
‘Should I tell Kang-suk hyung?’
Tae-hyuk shook his head. Kang-suk had to be the guardian of Ha-ran and Tae-min, so Tae-hyuk couldn’t drag them into the middle of an incident.
‘Is there anyone on the blacklist that I can cooperate with?’
No apparent name came to mind.
His mind was filled with complicated thoughts. Tae-hyuk became lost in his thoughts as he walked the streets at night.
There were luxury homes around him. An Eun-young’s house was one of them. Her father was the director of a general hospital. She was good at studying and lived well. Her face was also cute when it wasn’t covered in dark circles. Another bonus was that she cooked well.
‘I don’t know who she will marry, but they must’ve saved a country in their past life.’
Tae-hyuk licked his lips.
At the end of the street, there was a two-storey house that seemed like it would appear in a drama.
'One day, I will move into a house like that.’
A smile formed on Tae-hyuk’s face as he imagined his family living together in a two-storey house with a yard.
But then he saw something strange.
'Are they trying to climb over the wall because they lost their house key?’
Tae-hyuk decided to quietly watch the situation.
It was a woman who looked suspicious. She was wearing leather clothes that clung to her body and had various tools.
There was something else that stood out, however. She couldn’t climb the fence and kept slipping down. Every time it happened, she would kick the stones on the street. She seemed strangely familiar.
'Uh, isn’t that the person from last time?’
An Eun-young had lost her spirit after being threatened. He had seen the woman when he took An Eun-young home, and didn’t think it was a big deal at the time.
When he thought about it again, he felt suspicious. He didn’t think she would lose her key twice. There seemed to be a different purpose.
‘... A thief?
Why else would she be standing in front of a rich home?
In the end, the novice thief turned her head to look for another way.
Tae-hyuk shook his head
It felt like watching a toddler trying to climb a wall so he walked away. He wanted to get far away.
* * *
“What's going on?"
It was past 10 o’clock at night.
Tae-hyuk was surprised when he arrived home. The house was in a mess, as if a thief had gone through it. The closet and drawers were pulled open and all the contents emptied.
Tae-min was attending a private cram school and wasn’t back yet. Ha-ran was sitting on the floor and crying alone.
Tae-hyuk bit his lip.
It felt like meeting the thief on his way home had foreshadowed the current situation.
First, he had to make sure that Ha-ran wasn’t hurt.
“Noona. Are you okay?”
Ha-ran stammered as she explained the situation.
She had went out for a while and came back to this. The house was a mess.
Tae-hyuk inwardly sighed with relief. The most important thing was that Ha-ran hadn’t been at home.
"Then what did they steal?”
Tae-hyuk’s house didn’t have any valuables. The money they had was used to pay back all the debts. It covered everything. The rest went into the furniture.
Most of this was due to the bounty received for catching Yoo Cheol-ho. However, there was less profit to be gained compared to the effort to move the furniture.
"First of all, we still have all the furniture but...”
All of the furniture was still here.
Then Ha-ran pointed to her treasure chest with a trembling hand.
'Surely not my bankbook? Even if they steal it, they won’t be able to withdraw anything.’
After the voice phishing incident, Tae-hyuk had set a password on his account and all the seals were kept separately. Three family members were in charge of them. They couldn’t do anything with just one seal.
“M-Mother’s keepsake is gone.”
Tae-hyuk trembled as he heard Ha-ran’s words.
It was the silver Rosario. It wasn’t a cheap item. It was worth approximately 200,000 won? It was an ornament that was difficult to determine the value because it was worn.
However, it was the only remaining memento of his parents. No matter how difficult life was, they couldn’t sell it.
But alas, it was now stolen. No matter how much it was worth, it was a precious memory that they couldn’t live without.
Tae-hyuk’s hands trembled.
Perhaps the culprit wasn’t listed on his blacklist. However, they had stolen something precious in Tae-hyuk’s family.
Tae-hyuk gritted his teeth.
He burned with fighting spirit as he thought of the thief.
“Noona. Don’t worry, I'll surely find Rosario.”
Tae-hyuk grabbed some tissues for the crying Ha-ran. Ha-ran sniffled and blew her nose.
From what Tae-hyuk remembered, Rosario had been safe for the entirety of those 15 years. However, it was now stolen.
The cause was Tae-hyuk moving to this house.
It was like a butterfly effect, since a thief wouldn’t bother with a semi-basement rented room.
Tae-hyuk felt a heavy sense of responsibility.
Changing the present changed the future. But it wasn’t always in a good way.
“Yes. Let’s start catching a thief.”