< Like a Shrimp (1) >
Whew, in the end, I figured out another case. Now all I had to do was finish the contract and Awaken her.
“Saying something I never say, it’s embarrassing as hell. Quickly sign, I’ll Awaken you.”
“Okay. Ah, it’s so funny.”
“Even ahjussi’s neck is red!”
“You’re difficult to handle too, okay?”
Giggling, Bak Yerim signed the contract. As soon as the two signature lines were filled, the contract glowed weakly. Continuing, the surface became slippery as if it was covered in lamination. As if she was fascinated, Bak Yerim touched the contract.
“It looks like you can’t modify it.”
“It wouldn’t do if you could modify it.”
Taking back the contract, I put it back in the inventory. With this, the preparation was complete.
“Then, I’m going to use the Awakening skill?”
“Ah, wait a moment.”
She shook her hand and sat up straight as if she was going to go into meditation. Then, she took a deep breath.
“Will I Awaken right away?”
“If your luck is good. At the longest it’ll take a week.”
The Auspicious Seed-Leaf skill was applied immediately but I deliberately choose a week’s time. Since I didn’t know if I would be able to apply the keyword immediately like this time, when I Awaken a different person later.
“Okay, please do it!”
There was no need to be that nervous. I used the Auspicious Seed-Leaf optimized Awakening skill toward Bak Yerim. And then, shortly.
“M-message Window really came up! Ahjussi! Rank, how do I check my rank?”
“Think about opening your Status Window. You can say it outloud too.”
“Status Window! Huh? Wow!”
Bak Yerim’s mouth dropped open. Her whole face looked as if the word ‘astonishment’ was engraved into it.
That’s right, it was certainly shocking enough. Stat rank S with skills that were as much as SS. An incredibly excited Yerim screamed and grabbed the table with her han-
“Ahjussi! I’m S-!”
Huh? The table broke? I mean, did she dig her hand into it? The thick surface had sunken in in the shape of a hand. Oh my.
Ah, shit. Yoohyun definitely told me that C-Ranks and higher couldn’t immediately adjust to their suddenly changed physical abilities. Since Yerim was S-Rank… I messed up.
“Right now, your strength is a lot stronger than before. So don’t touch anything. Okay?”
“Okay. Let’s go out carefully. Move very slowly. Think about walking slowly, without even making a sound.”
Yerim stood from her seat slowly and carefully. It was a precarious movement as if she was walking on a tightrope. Watching this, I felt anxious as if in front of a young child who could fall off at any moment.
This was the 1st floor, with no basement, so that was a relief at least. Even if the ground broke, people wouldn’t get hurt.
“Slowly, step by step. Yes, like that.”
“I think I’ve gotten a little used to it.”
“Still, you can’t hurry. Apparently it takes at least a day.”
Not looking away from her, I opened the sliding door. After putting on my shoes, I took care of Yerim’s sneakers. Her sneakers were very old. And they looked big compared to Yerim’s feet. At least buy her new shoes instead of handing over used ones.
“I’ll put them on for you so give me your feet.”
“Okay. Uh… I’m a little uneasy about standing on one foot though.”
“Then sit down carefully. Slowly-.”
Ack, a slight handprint was left on the floor. But unlike with the table, only a small crack was left. As I put a sneaker on a stretched-out foot, she must have found something funny because she burst out laughing.
“Isn’t this a little exciting?”
“Rather than exciting, it’s nerve-wracking.”
Why would excitement come up here? After telling her not to touch anything, I looked around again and then went over to the checkout counter. I guess I should pay for the table.
“Here, to pay. And the table got a little brok-.”
“Ah, a fly!”
A table corner crumbled like some kind of biscuit. Yerim laughed, saying ‘oh dear’.
“I caught all the bugs in the restaurant. It must have become a habit, ahaha.”
Don’t laugh. The employee inside the checkout counter stared back and forth between the table and Yerim with huge eyes. I’m so sorry for my kid. I handed over both an apology and a card.
“Please include the costs of our seated table and that table.”
It’s okay to take off a lot.
The way back to Haeyeon Guild was relatively smooth. The car’s frontseat headrest was crushed and once we got off, the sidewalk curb was split, but nobody was hurt so it was okay.
That said, don’t come near, Yerim. She kept on trying to cling. The sudden change must have made you uneasy but if you just grab me once, my arm will shatter. I’m stat F.
I only told Haeyeon Guild’s Guild Leader Yoohyun about Bak Yerim. That was because if word leaked out at any moment, it would become troublesome. I planned on letting word about the new S-Rank be known at the rank evaluation at the Hunter Association.
So that there wouldn’t be any unfortunate victims, while Kim Sunghan was on guard against the surroundings, we went up the elevator. There weren’t a lot of people in the lobby due to it being a weekend evening, so it was a huge relief. Excluding floors 1~3, to go into the area, you had to go through a security check, but Yoohyun had notified them ahead of time, so thanks to that, we got to skip it.
“My heart is beating a little.”
As soon as the elevator door closed, Yerim came closer to me again.
“Don’t stick to me. There’s no place for me to escape.”
“I won’t disturb you. You think I can’t control it that much?”
“You’re saying that after crushing the headrest? If a person was there you would have become a murderer.”
At the talk of being a murderer, Yerim’s lip stuck straight out. I wondered if my words were too much, but thinking of the future, giving this amount of warning seemed better. An Unawakened Person and stat S-Rank were different to the extent of being different species.
In order to prevent accidents, she had to bear in mind constantly the truth that she wasn’t normal.
In the guild leader’s office, there weren’t other people and only Yoohyun was there waiting. As soon as we entered, this guy put on a business-like smile.
“Please come in, Bak Yerim-yang.”
Yerim awkwardly bobbed her head in greeting. Strange, she didn’t seem like someone shy with strangers.
“First of all, I will guide you to where you will stay while you are adjusting to the ability change. Stat S-Ranks finish adjusting in one day, on average. After that, it is possible for your daily life to stay the same as before, so there is no need to worry.”
Yoohyun explained, courteously. It was definitely an unfamiliar image. Though if you thought about an S-Rank Awakened Person’s worth, that was standard. Did I treat Yerim too casually?
“Please come this way.”
Yoohyun took the lead and left the room. What do I do. It’s getting to be time to feed Peace, so could I leave?
“Ahjussi, what are you doing not coming over!”
While I was standing there blankly, Bak Yerim gestured to me and called me over. She even glared at me, as if asking why I wasn’t hurrying. Now that I thought of it, I did say I would be her guardian. I guess I had to follow.
Unlike when we were coming up the elevator, the elevator didn’t stop at the 1~3 floors, and we went down to the basement. In the basement, there was a training facility for Awakened People.
Following the long hallway, Yoohyun continued explaining.
“The basement 2nd to 3rd floors are spaces for training. For safety reasons, you have to go to the training center located in Gyeongi Province for the training for just A-Ranks and above in full-fledged battle. Skills with killing power especially are strictly prohibited from being used in the downtown area so please take care.”
“…It seems like there’s a lot to learn.”
“After registering as an Awakened Person, you will formally receive training. Until then, you only need to take care when using your skills.”
Now that I thought of it, I wondered what Yerim’s skills’ effects were. I was curious.
“This stamina training room is where Bak Yerim-yang will remain for one day.”
The place we arrived at was a wide room with various athletic equipment. There was a high ceiling, and the walls and floors that didn’t seem to be made out of normal material stood out.
“Even if the equipment here are broken, it does not matter. Please use them to familiarize yourself with your senses. The walls and floor can handle an S-Rank level 1’s physical strength. By any chance, is your Strength stat above 100?”
“No. It is 61.”
“That much will be no trouble.”
It was 61. It was as much as 3 times the sum of my stats. Just looking at Strength, it was 15 times. Just because the stat was 15 times didn’t mean actual strength was 15 times, but it was definitely a difference that meant I couldn’t dare to approach her.
“Over there, a showering room and a sleeping room has been provided. Again, if the two facilities are broken, there is no need to worry, but if possible, please use them after adjusting to your strength to a certain extent.”
“What do I do if I need something?”
“You can request for it through the phone in the sleeping room. If you happen to break the phone, please press the emergency bell next to the sleeping room door.”
Yoohyun asked if she had any other questions besides that. Bak Yerim shook her head to reply.
“Then, the remaining information will be given tomorrow after you adjust to your abilities.”
Saying so, Yoohyun turned around. I should also go up and give Peace food. He must be waiting.
“Ahjussi, where are you going!”
As I was about to turn, Yerim yelled shrilly. What do you mean, where.
“I’m going home.”
“And leave me here alone? How could you? You said you’d take responsibility!”
It wasn’t wrong but the nuance was a little odd. Yoohyun stopped walking out and turned his head to look at me.
“I said I would be her guardian.”
“Her parents aren’t here, and she doesn’t have a good relationship with the uncle she is living with. She didn’t want to be involved with that family.”
There wasn’t anything bad. But Yoohyun’s expression looked bad.
“If the guardians for Awakened minors aren’t their parents, they’re usually Awakened People whose ranks are higher or around the same. That’s the only way to have control. If she needs a guardian then it’s better if I-.”
“Ahjussi already said he would, okay?”
Bak Yerim cut in through Yoohyun’s words. Her expression was icy, unbecoming of her age, and I thought of the ice witch Bak Yerim I saw in the past that was also the future. Why was she overreacting now.
“Bak Yerim-yang. Even just for the guardian’s safety, that cannot be done. There are already many cases of guardians with lower ranks and not even a safety net of being blood-related being assaulted by their guardees while giving advice.”
Uh… there was that kind problem too. Well, dealing with a teenager a lot stronger than you and going through the tough period of adolescence wouldn’t be an easy task. Thinking like that, I got a little scared. Since the contract said that Yerim would protect me, would it be okay?
“I contracted to protect ahjussi. So there’s no problem with safety. From the start I didn’t have the thought to hurt ahjussi.”
“Even so, there is also another problem of hyung not being able to properly take on the role of guardian. Not to mention, the difference in rank is too high, and other than that, various other troubles probably will follow.”
“…I don’t know, all of that. But.”
Bak Yerim looked at me once and continued talking.
“If you don’t give me ahjussi as my guardian, I won’t enter Haeyeon Guild.”
…What? No, wait?
 last ch, they said they went into a room. In some restaurants, you can get private rooms with floors that are slightly raised platforms, where you take off your shoes outside and go in and sit on cushions at a low table.
 in the prev. sentence YR asks lit. “doesn’t this make [heart] flutter?” (where ‘heart’ isn’t really said, bc the particular word for “flutter” is often used by itself, and either way means “excitement”), and so YJ replied “rather than shake, my skin/flesh is trembling.” The meaning is as written in the tl.
 an female-only honorific that is basically the equivalent of “miss”
 I felt kind of bad using ‘it’ esp now that he has a name. Once again, krn doesn’t really use pronouns so idk if he even is a ‘he’ or a ‘she’ in the first place, and anyways who cares about gender. I’m just using ‘he’ just because.