Hunter Academy’s Battle God
[Translator – Bob ]
[Proofreader – ilafy ]
A disdainful gaze, as if looking down upon a bug.
“…Hanajima Sumire. You have quite the nerve.”
Isshin’s voice was cold enough to freeze someone instantly in place.
Sumire’s entire body was coiled up and tense as if she had expected that reaction all along, and that fact enraged Isshin even more.
“…What, did you become mute during the time we didn’t see each other? Come on, at least give me a reply. You have a mouth, don’t you?”
She tried to continue but stopped. Isshin’s grimace grew deeper at the sight.
He lifted the index finger on his left hand and stabbed Sumire’s forehead with it.
“…Yeah, I bet you don’t have anything to say since you’re the sort of person who would betray her party members and run away to Korea.”
Sakura sneered as she watched the display as if tired of the whole song and dance.
“Pfft, there he goes again. I can't believe he’s pulling this crap in high school!”
“Oi! Isshin, cut it out! Don’t fight with a guest…”
Even his leader, Seiji, tried to stop him, but Isshin kept going.
“…The reason why I let you into my party… Why I let you borrow my hair for your disgusting little power… It was all out of goodwill because I pitied you… All of it.”
Sumire turned her eyes down to avoid his gaze.
Isshin glanced between her and YuSung, then sneered. “Looks like you’re going to the International Competition at this rate.”
Isshin pressed himself closer to Sumire and spoke in a quiet tone. ”Don’t tell me, Hanajima, that you think… you got here due to your own skill, do you?”
He continued to spew more insults. “…Maybe the actual skill you have is your ability to look pathetic so that you can latch onto people who are strong.”
Sumire kept repeating the word like a broken record. Isshin didn’t even blink.
“You’re just like a parasite.” He lifted his left index finger again. “…Oi, Hanajima.”
He poked her in the forehead again.
“Where are you going to go next?”
Sumire couldn’t speak up, even as Isshin continued to interrogate her.
Her stomach churned. As she thought, it was hard trying to face her past.
The only thing on her mind before her transfer was her desire to escape the uncomfortable situation she was in. She didn’t even think about the feelings of the party members she left behind.
Sumire’s heart was much too frail to endure a direct confrontation between her and the people who had hurt her in the past.
“I… I just…”
Tears began to stream down her face at the other boy’s insistence.
Isshin made a move to poke her in the forehead once more.
“Are you trying to answer me, or are you gonna ask another question… urk!”
But YuSung grabbed his finger with his hand. Isshin’s face twisted in pain as the other boy began to apply pressure.
Even as YuSung’s demeanor was as calm as ever, the aura he exuded was oppressive enough to stop the people in his surroundings in their tracks.
“Y-you… what do you know?!”
Isshin swatted the hand away and backed off. He grimaced. YuSung had only grabbed his finger for a brief period of time, but the grip strength was strong enough to send a shive down his entire body.
“This is between! The two of us…”
But YuSung ignored him and instead stood in front of Sumire.
“It doesn’t matter what happened between the two of you,” he retorted, voice quiet and calm.
Sumire’s hands grabbed tightly onto YuSung’s clothes, even as they were violently shaking. Isshin’s glare grew even deadlier at the sight.
But the one fighting him was YuSung, not Sumire.
“Sumire came here as a representative of Korea in order to raid the Castle of Phantasms.”
YuSung didn’t grow angry. Instead, he stared at the other boy, making sure to suppress his emotions as much as possible.
“As the leader of her party, I won’t allow any more disrespect done to her.”
“Hanajima is Japanese first, and Korea’s representative second… haah, fine. I’ll stop for now.”
Isshin clicked his tongue at Sumire as if deeming her not worth the effort.
He spun towards the exit. “It’s not like I’d be able to trust my back to a traitor, anyways.”
“Isshin, you…” Seiji stretched out his hand in an effort to stop Isshin from leaving.
“Stop it, Seiji.” But Sakura interrupted him. “Just let him go, I’ll participate.”
Seiji, frazzled. Sakura, composed.
Isshin eventually left the building. Seiji then began apologizing to Sumire and YuSung.
“…I’m sorry, we showed you guys, the representatives of Korea, something so unsightly. I especially need to apologize to you, Sumi… no, Hanajima-san.”
TL/N: -san is an honorific used in Japanese to refer to people of a similar standing to you in a formal manner. e.g. Your classmates, co-workers, etc.
It seemed like the two already knew each other from their middle school years. Their point of contact was, of course, Isshin.
Sumire shook her head weakly. “N-no. It’s true that… it’s my fault… I ran away from Japan without even a word to my party members…”
“Hmm… we managed to get a hot guy, but this uggo completely ruined the mood… eugh.” Sakura sighed.
Seiji took the opportunity to move the conversation back to safer waters—something he was plenty used to doing. “Well, no helping it, then. Let’s form a party with us four!”
“Yeah, sounds good.” Sakura winked. “How about we end it here for today~? It doesn’t look like any of us are up for making a plan, after all.”
* * *
Translator - Bob
Proofreader - ilafy
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* * *
And with that, the other Choten students left. Only YuSung and Sumire were left.
“I-I’m sorry… Shin YuSung-ssi… Because of me…”
Sumire had lost the strength in her legs and was sitting on the ground with her knees pulled up to her chest. The excited countenance she had shown at the beginning of their trip to Japan had been replaced with a completely different, listless one.
“…A-as I thought, it would’ve been better if someone like me didn’t go to Japan…” she said, smiling bitterly.
Only then did YuSung realize why Sumire’s confidence had been so low back when they had first met—her past memories of middle school had etched deep grooves in her heart.
“We only came here to raid the Castle of Phantasms. Nothing’s changed in that aspect.”
Sumire nodded weakly at the other boy’s level-headed words. Even in situations like those, her party leader, Shin YuSung, was someone who she could rely on. That was his own form of providing her comfort.
YuSung sat down on the ground right next to Sumire. The distance between them suddenly shrank. Flustered, Sumire gulped.
He glanced at her out of the corner of his eyes.
Sumire’s lips began to tremble. For whatever reason, her face was getting redder and redder.
She had fully broken down at that point, tongue tripping over her words.
Still, YuSung’s tone was calm. “Sumire, do you remember what you told me… back in the clubroom?”
His words managed to bring her senses back online. The moment in question had happened right before they had traveled to Japan. There was no need for Sumire to even search her memories.
“The clubroom… do you mean the day we ate sukiyaki?”
To Sumire, sukiyaki was a dish she ate on special occasions. She had introduced the dish to YuSung by saying that it tasted even better when it was eaten with family as you talked amongst each other.
YuSung smiled lightly.
He himself had also gotten help from his comrades and had learned things from them.
Twelve years of training on Martial Spirits’ Mountain…
Sumire had taught YuSung, who had no family, something he could never learn on his own during the meal they shared together.
—People are bound to change through other people. YuSung’s comrades had influenced him as well, even with the small things.
Only after spending time together with them did he realize that it was more entertaining to be in a group than by himself.
“I was thinking, back then… If I ever get to eat this dish again, who should I eat it with?”
No matter how much he thought about it, the only person who he could call family was the Fist King. It would be really fun if they got together for a meal for the first time in a long while and swapped stories about what happened after YuSung left the mountain. He was certain of that.
But… That meal would only be shared between two people.
If he had to choose more people as his family after the Fist King, who would it be?
His parents, who abandoned him?
Shin HaYoon, his sister?
The Shin-Oh family?
They may have the same blood running through their veins, but YuSung could never consider them family by his own standards. The family he dreamed of would never cast any of its members aside for a reason like their Trait.
“No matter how much and how long I think about it, the only other people that come to mind are you guys.”
“Ehh?! Th-then, w-we’re…”
Sumire was so taken aback by his words that her face had shot past the reddening mark and had begun heating up.
They weren’t wrong in any sense. To YuSung, who had no family, the people closest to him were his master, the Fist King, and his comrades—the members of his party.
But Sumire took his words differently.
‘Sh-Shin YuSung-ssi is part of my… family?’
She tried to stay as calm as she could, but it was impossible. Her explosive imagination had already decided on the names of her and YuSung’s children. She had completely forgotten what had just happened with Isshin.
YuSung continued on, tone sincere, as Sumire tried to hold her delighted grin back. He stared right at her.
“Yes, we are. That’s how important my party members and comrades are to me.”
Sumire stared right back at YuSung. Even as her heart was pounding so fast that it felt like it would burst, the other boy spoke evenly.
“Which is why I won’t be disappointed in you, Sumire, for something like that. I won’t send you back to Korea, either.”
Perhaps the image of an ideal family that YuSung had was one where its members would always stand by each other’s sides, no matter what.
“…That’s what family’s about, right?”
YuSung’s smile took on a melancholic edge.
Only then did Sumire realize.
[…So let's keep helping each other. We're a party, after all.]
On that day…
The words he spoke to her, telling her that she was of help to him, were the truth. Hee wasn’t just talking about how she had helped with the dungeon raid competition, nor the intramurals.
Sumire had been made fun of for being a crybaby ever since she was little. But that day, specifically, she felt that it was unfair. Anyone would cry after realizing that they were of help to the person they admired.
The tears spilling from her eyes were different from her usual ones—they had been created because she was deeply moved. Sumire opened her mouth in order to say something, then snapped it back shut.
She softly bit her lip and looked at the boy sitting next to her. The YuSung that she had watched up to that point in time was a virtuous boy who was kind to everyone. She knew that he didn’t act that way solely towards her.
Sumire loudly sniffed her nose, then slowly nodded her head.
“I-If you’re alright with someone, sob, like me…”
Her face seemed happy, even amidst all of the crying. Only then did YuSung relax.
“Sniff! A-and… I’ll introduce you to my family, YuSung-ssi! They even told me that… they prepared sukiyaki, after all.”
Sumire grinned bashfully, eyes red and swollen from her tears. YuSung matched her with a bashful grin of his own.
‘…I’m looking for to it. The sukiyaki.’
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