Hunter Academy’s Battle God
[Translator – Bob ]
[Proofreader – ilafy ]
Early morning, in the clubroom…
The sound of rain outside was deafening. A swath of blue blanketed everything outside in a blue glow. YuSung was looking outside the window while sitting on a chair.
He was used to that kind of scenery. Something about it, however, made him feel different emotions from usual.
‘What a nice sound.’
The raindrops made a clear pitter-patter wherever they hit.
It was a bit of a miracle that YuSung would be so focused on the sound of rain. Ever since he was young, he disliked that sound. No, to be exact, he didn’t like the days when it rained.
A wet, dark sky…
The noise always made him recall bad memories.
[You won’t be able to survive in the Shin-oh family with an F-rank Trait, anyways.]
[Give up on becoming a hunter and live a normal life. That wouldn’t be too bad.]
[YuSung-ah… How does it feel like to live as a mistake? …Hm? Tell me. What does it feel like?]
[I feel as if these are drastic measures, but I suppose it can’t be helped. I’m in favor of exiling him from the family.]
[All he’ll be is food for those hyenas to lap up. Don’t you agree?]
[I agree as well.]
[In any case, I feel sorry for the child, but… incredible, to think such a defect would be born from those two…]
And the people from his household.
Memories were fascinating things. Just when you thought you completely forgot, they wake up from their slumber and jump to the forefront of your head at the most insignificant triggers.
Thoughts like those disturbed YuSung’s mind for a great deal of time. Even back when he was training on the mountain, it was the reason why he notably hated the days when it rained.
But it was different now.
The sound of rain that he wanted to plug his ears against, back when he was a kid, was nothing more than pleasant nowadays. YuSung smiled lightly and stuck a straw in his carton of banana-flavored milk.
He never really had to prove his worth to himself, just to others. The more achievements he had under his belt, and the more effort and talent he displayed, the more YuSung believed in his own skill.
'I'm the one who's changing.'
It was a pretty obvious conclusion to come to if one thought about it.
After leaving Martial Spirits' Mountain, he met various people and slowly, steadily learned various things through them.
YuSung no longer pushed himself with excessive training. He learned how to take advantage of days with bad weather and relax, like what he was doing currently.
He also learned that there were many delicious foods in the world…
That people who looked strong on the outside also had their own insecurities and worries…
That people who looked weak on the outside could have an inner strength nestled inside them…
He learned all of those things through the experiences he had through meeting with other people.
YuSung savored the taste of his drink. The scent of banana filled his mouth, followed by an overwhelming sweetness.
Right then, someone opened the door to the clubroom.
The sound of plastic bags.
"春に為ったら~花見! (When it's spring~ it means flower-viewing time!)"
A familiar voice was singing the lyrics to a children’s song in Japanese.
TL/N: The song in question is だんご3兄弟, or Three Dumpling Brothers.
"秋になったら~ 月見! (When it's fall~ it means moon-viewing time!)"
Her ecstatic humming stopped abruptly right when she reached YuSung.
Sumire sucked her breath in as he saw the other occupant in the room. It seemed as if she hadn't even thought that anyone else would be in the clubroom this early during a weekend.
"S-s-so, you were… you were already here, Shin YuSung-ssi? It's really early…"
Embarrassed, Sumire coughed and scratched her cheek with a finger.
YuSung looked at the bag in her hand. "What's that?"
"Ah, today's menu is sukiyaki!" Sumire crouched down onto the ground and introduced its contents to him one by one. "This is shirataki… sukiyaki sauce. Lots of giant spring onions. Mushrooms… and beef for the meat!"
TL/N: Sukiyaki is a type of Japanese hotpot. Shirataki is konjac (a jelly-like food made from a yam plant of the same name) in string form.
Finished with her explanation, she glanced up at the other boy.
"…I-I prepared this thinking that a bunch of our party members would come over since it's the weekend, but, um… we're the only two here."
Amy was usually quite busy due to her broadcasting schedule, so it wasn't out of the ordinary for her to not be here during the weekend. But EunAh, who spent most of her weekends playing around, was also not at the clubroom, as her brother had woken up from his coma.
"A-and Lee SiWoo-ssi… said that something came up with his family. Too bad, all this food was prepared to celebrate your victory, Shin YuSung-ssi…"
Even since she was little, Sumire would eat hot pot with her family on special occasions. Her father, especially, had told her like a mantra that hot pot was only delicious if many people ate it together. She wasn't sure why that was the case, but it had become a ritual nonetheless.
"I-I was… planning to cook it slowly after you woke up… um, should I start preparing it right now, then? Sukiyaki is a little heavy for breakfast, but…"
"I'm good with that. I was just getting hungry, too. Thanks, Sumire."
"Huh?! N-no, it's nothing! Y-you helped me with so much more, Shin YuSung-ssi… and these ingredients were all bought with our budget… and I only became a Seven because of you!"
Sumire shook her head fiercely at YuSung's gratitude. She wasn't quite used to hearing other people expressing their thanks towards her, even if she was plenty used to giving thanks to others—especially if the person in question giving her the thanks was YuSung.
YuSung stretched his hand out towards her during the darkest era of her life, after 'that incident' in Japan, so even if she managed to find a way to shine on her own, there was no one who could take the place of YuSung in her heart. He was special in that way.
Considering that, It was no surprise that she wanted to express her gratitude.
"…Th-the only way I can be of help to you and repay you for everything is through my food, after all…"
Sumire let out a small smile as she said that. She always enjoyed eating meals with YuSung, especially when he ate the food she had made herself.
But YuSung stared at Sumire and began talking, voice serious.
The shock on Sumire’s face was apparent. She inspected his face, trying to see any signs that she had displeased him in some way.
"Sumire, we're members of the same party. The reason I chose you was because I needed your help."
Plip. Plop. Shhh.
The rain was endless. The drops hitting the window harmonized well with YuSung's voice.
"The double raid at the Graveyard of Despair… Our win during the intramurals… Both would have been impossible without your contributions."
Sumire had always idolized YuSung. Even with his F-rank Trait, he easily accomplished every task in his way. He never gave up and was someone she could always rely on.
"A-am I really helpful…?"
The fact that she was of help to someone like that made her feel odd inside.
"Yes, you were a huge help, Sumire."
But YuSung stayed steadfast.
He believed there was no one in the world who could do everything all by themselves. No one could live alone.
The reason why he endured his training on the mountain…
The reason why he managed to perform the fourth form of the Battle God Style, something he couldn't do even under the tutelage of the Fist King…
All of those things were possible because of the Fist King, his comrades, and the existence of opponents that he needed to beat.
"…So, let's keep helping each other. We're a party, after all.”
From YuSung’s perspective, those were his genuine sentiments.
Sumire, however, was experiencing quite a different set of emotions.
"Ooh… ooh… Shin YuSung-ssi…"
At some point, she had tears pooling in the corners of her eyes.
The girl kept muttering to herself while sniffling, touched by his words.
"Yes! I-I'll… keep trying harder… to be of help! I'll get stronger, and… I-I'll cook tastier food…"
* * *
Translator - Bob
Proofreader - ilafy
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* * *
Some time later…
They had set a butane stove on the table, and the hot pot was cooking on it. As the beef began to cook and brown, Sumire began her explanation of how to eat the dish.
"Pick it up with your chopsticks… and dip it in the raw eggs. Then eat."
TL/N: Raw egg in Korea and Japan are safe to eat.
YuSung, excited to try a new dish, followed her instructions right after. The meat, infused with the flavorful sukiyaki sauce, matched well with the mild, savory taste of the egg.
"This is so good."
He ate with gusto. Seeing that, Sumire began ladling tofu and more meat into his bowl.
She looked proud, somehow. A large grin was dancing on her face.
"…I-I made this a lot back in Japan! Normally, sukiyaki is… a dish that you eat with family."
"…With your family?" YuSung asked, a note of interest in his voice.
Sumire nodded. "Everyone… sits around a table and eats it together. We exchange a lot of small talk…"
She associated hot pot with many memories of her past. Of course, she had never even managed to taste any meat back then due to her younger siblings hogging it all for themselves. Even so, it was delicious.
"N-now that I think about it… it's been a while since I last saw my family."
Saying that, Sumire grabbed a slice of meat with her chopsticks. She dunked it in the raw egg, placed it in her mouth, and began to chew.
The food was delicious, but something about it tasted different from the hot pot she had eaten back then.
"It's really good… when you eat it with family."
A dish you ate with your family…
YuSung grabbed another slice of meat with his chopsticks.
Who was family to him?
The Shin-Oh family, who abandoned him back when he was five years old? No matter how much he thought about it, he couldn't consider them eligible.
The only person who he could really consider as part of his family was the Fist King.
Sumire had been separated from her own ever since she had come over to Korea as an exchange student. YuSung had some idea of what emotions Sumire was experiencing.
"Then it works out. Let's take this opportunity to visit your family."
"H-huh?" Sumire frantically waved her arms. "Um, it's alright?! Thank you for the consideration, but my family members live in Japan…"
"Didn't I tell you? Our next raid is going to be in Japan."
He nonchalantly grabbed another piece of meat as he said so. Sumire's eyes were as wide as dinner plates.
"H-huhhhhhh?! J-Japan?!" she repeated, bewildered.
YuSung fiddled with his Pocket to display the details of the request on a hologram.
[Boss Subjugation Request]
[Habitat: Castle of Phantasms]
[Boss Name: Succubus Queen]
[Difficulty: Rank 5]
[Time Limit: X]
"…Mhm. I wanted to at least discuss who was going to go during a meeting with everyone, but… the Castle of Phantasms has a lot of undead monsters, so I think you'll be a good fit, Sumire."
EunAh, one of their most powerful members, couldn't leave the side of her brother who had recently awoken from a coma. Amy and SiWoo were both busy, the former because of her job and the latter due to his family.
"Th-then, that means…? Sh-Shin YuSung-ssi and I are going to go to Japan… by ourselves?"
Since Sumire was planning to visit her family at her house, they didn't even need the temporary lodgings that the Association had prepared for them.
"What do you think? You'll have to prepare for a bunch of things, but…"
The corner of Sumire's mouth shot up at his words as if she couldn't wait for the day to come.
'Shin YuSung-ssi… At my house…'
She wanted to meet her family and introduce YuSung to them as soon as possible.
'Th-this is totally like…'
Her face became redder and redder as she came to her own conclusions.
"Ha, hahu… huheehee…"
Reedy laughter began to spill from Sumire's lips as her imagination took her on a flight of fancy.
"Yes! S-sounds good! I definitely want to go! I can see my family again, and…"
"Good, then it's settled."
YuSung smiled and stabbed his straw in another carton of banana-flavored milk. Sumire, beside herself with giddiness, merely watched him do so, giggling all the while.
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