< Second S-Rank (2) >
Against the super fancy marbling, the chuck flap tail made a delicious sound as it was lowered onto the grill. Next to it, Korean beef tripe was puffed up and sizzling with fat.
The world was definitely worth living in.
It would be great to have a bottle of soju or beer but it wasn’t right for this situation.
“You can drink alcohol.”
“Your face looks like you really want to drink. I’ve seen drunk people everyday so you don’t have to worry.”
……Was my face too obvious or could she read minds?
“I can’t get drunk when we have to talk about the contract. And the person in front of me is a formidable opponent. I’m afraid I’ll get robbed if I get drunk, so I can’t.”
“Rather than me being formidable, isn’t it that ahjussi is too soft?”
Bak Yerim smiled delightedly. It seemed like her grumbling mood had loosened.
To make it easy to talk, we deliberately went into a room so there weren’t other customers nearby. In the first place, the time was a little awkward so there weren’t a lot of customers at all.
Kim Sunghan refused the proposal to each together, and after carefully looking around the inside of the restaurant, he went outside, saying he would wait there. I should just give up on making that person an S-Rank. We weren’t getting close at all.
“Anyways, did you really know my parents?”
Bak Yerim asked, picking up a piece of meat.
“If we didn’t know each other, how would I have been able find you right away. We didn’t know each other well, but I was once indebted to them when I was young.”
“When you were young?”
“Yeah. I lost my parents early too. Trying to survive while taking care of my young dongsaeng was difficult.”
I was running myself ragged trying to sell the story. But this was something emotionally moving for Koreans – tragic circumstances of losing parents early in life and having no one to turn to, etcetera. Even with just sympathy votes from losing your parents, you could become the president.
“Back then, your parents gave us a little help. That was already around 10 years ago so you probably don’t remember.”
Of course, I didn’t remember either. Pouring a cup of cider, instead of alcohol, I continued speaking.
“Before Awakening, I was busy with just surviving so I didn’t have time to think about looking. I had an S-Rank Awakened Person as a dongsaeng but until recently our relationship wasn’t good.”
“Really? Now that I think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever heard about Haeyeon Guild Leader’s family.”
“We made up a few days ago. I Awakened, and got a useful skill, and made up with my dongsaeng. With things settling down, I remembered past things. It’s a little selfish, right?”
“What do you mean selfish. Just look at my uncle! There are a lot of people who repay good with evil, so remembering even a while later is better at least.”
Bak Yerim said, puffing out her cheeks. The inside of those cheeks was full with well-stuffed meat-ssam. She eats well.
“Hey, that’s chili.”
“I like spicy things.”
Saying that, she even dipped raw garlic in ssamjang and ate it. Just how many pieces of garlic did she put in her ssam. If it wasn’t cooked, I would get heartburn, so I couldn’t eat it.
“So I asked around and found you. At first, I was just going to ask if you needed help with anything, but your Awakening aptitude was really outstanding.”
“Speak after you swallow.”
Did that bastard uncle starve his niece or something.
“Then all I have to do now is sign the contract with ahjussi?”
“Yeah. Awakening can be right away or might take a few days according to the situation. It won’t take long.”
“It’d be good if it’s right away. When I get home, it’ll be a huge fuss.”
“About half is luck but I’ll try.”
How do I say the keyword. Should I speak more about parents?
First, I took out a contract from my inventory. Bak Yerim’s eyes became round at seeing parchment appearing out of the air.
“That’s the inventory, right? This is actually my first time seeing it.”
“You’ll also get one soon. You can only put in dungeon-related things, but it’s convenient.”
You couldn’t put in normal things. You could only put things from a dungeon or things only made up of byproducts from dungeons into the inventory.
“There are 3 conditions for the contract. Don’t talk about my skill to others. Taking on being my guard for a year from now on. Contracting with Haeyeon Guild.”
“Yeah. I’m only an F-Rank so I need someone to protect me. So while I was looking for a suitable person, I saw you.”
“Hey, but still, to get protection from a 15-year-old. Aren’t you embarrassed?”
“Even a 10-year-old is stronger than me if their stats rank is higher, so I’m not embarrassed.”
Getting all the way here, how would I suddenly be embarrassed. Simply replying, I took out a pen. This pen and the ink inside were all made from dungeon byproducts. I had spread out the contract and was writing down the conditions when Bak Yerim stretched out her neck and peeked at it.
“If you violate the contract, for 1 year all stats 20% drop? The penalty is just this? Even if you break it, it doesn’t seem like a big problem.”
“20% drop means that the dungeon you can clear is one rank lower. The difference in the amount of money you make is huge.”
“But you can still rest for one year.”
“That’s true. But this is a Hunter Association certified contract. If you break a contract, your credit rating will drop to the ground. Depending on the degree, your Hunter license can be suspended too.”
That was why if it wasn’t a backdoor deal, a Hunter Association certified contract was a lot better than an illegal contract with a strong penalty.
“I thought Awakened Person contracts had horrible penalties.”
“Those exist too. They’re illegal though.”
“Only Awakened People have stats so does the effect still work even if we contract now?”
“It doesn’t matter. This has a curse skill applied to it and Unawakened people also get skill effects so your physical ability will probably drop 20%?”
“A curse, you say, that’s scary.”
I wrote down all my conditions and signed it. Bak Yerim, who was watching me, quickly held out her hand for the pen.
“I just have to write down my name, right?”
When she took the pen and contract and was about to sign her name at once,
I quickly took the contract back. Bak Yerim stared at me as if asking why I did that.
“Kids are definitely kids.”
Sulking, she asked in a sharp voice. I shook the contract in front of her eyes.
“You should properly check it over before you sign.”
“But there’s no problem with it.”
‘No problem’, she says.
“You left out your conditions.”
“……Huh, you’re right.”
Bak Yerim mumbled blankly. Right now, the contract one-sidedly contained only my demands. Maybe because she was embarrassed, her face became a little red.
“It’s possible to forget sometimes!”
“Of course, it’s possible to forget. But being vague and using that kind of excuse doesn’t affect the contract. That’s what it means to become an Awakened Person, a Hunter. You can get rights like an adult’s, but you also have to bear responsibility like an adult.”
I took back the pen and added conditions related to Bak Yerim’s Awakening and support.
“And, usually these contracts are adjusted. I already found out you’re going to become an Awakened Person with a high rank. A prediction of an Awakening rank B or higher. This is extremely advantageous information for you. Wherever you go, you’ll get good treatment and if you happen to be A or higher, it’s a free pass to the 3 big guilds.”
I spoke, pointing to the ‘contracting with Haeyeon Guild’ condition with the tip of the pen.
“But instead of negotiating the contract conditions, and signing it saying that you’ll go into the guild, isn’t that a stupid thing to do? Being taken by my saying I’ll Awaken you right away and accepting – this condition is too disadvantageous to you.”
I drew a line through the ‘contract with Haeyeon Guild’ condition, and revised it to ‘preferentially contract according to conditions – contract conditions are more than Hunter industry average’.
“There. This should be a fair contract, more or less.”
Bak Yerim must have been sulky or surprised; she stared at me with a confused expression. After a speechless moment, she opened her mouth.
“So what do you want me to do.”
Was she angry?
“It might have sounded like nagging to you, but what I mean is you’re still at an age where you need an adult’s help. After you Awaken, there’ll be a lot of people trying to approach you. Even as a B-Rank, a dungeon lower by 2 levels is D-Rank, and if you clear them 10 times unharmed, you can even go into a B-Rank dungeon.”
An orphaned middle schooler with a yearly income of several billions of won. How easy would it be to take advantage. Not to mention, Bak Yerim was S-Rank. If it became known, not to mention within the country, it’d cause a stir in foreign countries as well.
“Among them, they’ll be a lot of guys who’ll approach you acting like a nice person like me, and try to take advantage of you. Just like how you almost got taken in, you’ll be easily fooled.”
Bak Yerim’s gaze couldn’t meet the contract. Her expression was still stiff, but rather than being angry, her face looked as if she was lost in thought.
“……But I hate my uncle.”
“Alright, I know. I won’t even recommend that kind of person to be your guardian. It’d be a relief if he doesn’t make off with the money.”
“He’d 100% run off.”
As soon as insulting her uncle came up, the tense atmosphere slightly loosened.
“If you’re okay with it, I want to assume that role for you.”
“…Isn’t supporting me the same thing?”
“It’s different. A simple supporter can’t participate as a Hunter in a deal. But if they have a guardian, even if the Hunter minor gets into a disadvantageous contract, invalid claims are possible. Usually, parents often handle it.”
For Hunters, just because they were your flesh and blood didn’t mean they could become your guardian. Only a relevant Hunter could directly appoint them.
“So… I was thinking to take on the role of your parents instead.”
I cleared my throat deliberately, pretending to be embarrassed. And truthfully, it was a little awkward too. Even before the regression, I wasn’t at an age to have a 15-year-old daughter.
“U-uh… Yeah. Of course there are various ways I’m ill-suited and insufficient, though.”
“…Why are you trying to do so much for me? Even if you owed my parents, you said it was just a small bit of help.”
“Because I also had a difficult time.”
It was a lie, and it was also a truth.
“It might simply be vicarious satisfaction. If only I could’ve had a reliable support back then, something like that. Though, I probably don’t seem that reliable.”
“Ahjussi seems like he’ll be reliable enough.”
“…Do you have to ask again?”
It seemed like she didn’t want to pay lip service twice. I was in the wrong for not being satisfied with once.
“Anyways, I understand.”
Bak Yerim bashfully rubbed her cheek with her palm.
“Um, please take care of me from now on…?
“Okay, same here. So……”
I should have just drunk. The regret came too late but there was no helping it. There was no choice but to say it sober. It also seemed natural to be embarrassed to death.
“I said I would act in place of your parents but of course I’m very lacking. But as much as your parents loved you, or rather not to that extent, um, how should I say it…Yerim, I love you?”
“Ack! What is that! So weird!”
Screeching, Bak Yerim’s face became red and she rubbed her arms as if she had gotten goosebumps. My face was also definitely red. Saying nonsense sober was really hard.
But, if the response was that much.
[Unawakened Person ‘Bak Yerim’ has been influenced by the keyword!]
As expected, it popped up.
 a sizzling/frying noise, esp with meat
 lit. ‘fancy as if flower bloomed’
 this is a type of cut of beef
 ok I decided to keep in the 3rd person relationship signifiers (hyung, ahjussi, etc.) from now on instead of replacing them with “you”. Not gonna go back and change everything before retroactively tho. If someone younger is using “you” toward someone older in the tl from now on, it’s because no signifiers or pronouns are specified.
 one way krns eat meat, particularly grilled meat, is wrapped in lettuce or sesame leaves (or other leafy greens) along with condiments, sometimes rice, veggies, etc. This is called ssam. Things don’t come already wrapped – all the ingredients are laid out and each person takes whatever they want and wrap each individually themselves as they eat. Ssam is also sometimes used to refer to other wrapped foods from different cultures, since the word literally comes from the word “to wrap”.
 raw garlic (as well as cooked) is also an ingredient you can put in ssam. It’s a bit spicier and tangier but imho it’s really good.
 lit. “paste for ssam”, which is basically a mix of fermented soybean paste and chili paste
 a sound that implies playful disbelief or disagreement. The sound is actually “ey-ee” but it sounds like “eyy” which has a different connotation in eng.