Yeonhee Woo did not return the next day or the day after that. She had initially resisted going back home, but after the second day, I thought she changed her mind after going home, and declined my offer. The contents of the contract would make anyone think twice, from the death compensation and the penalties for contractual violations. The contracts I had given her were the same as those that guilds had given to new hunters before.
However, I saw her car coming up to the wall.
“I thought you would welcome me.”
She was smiling.
“It’s better at daylight. This place seems to be haunted at night.”
“If you came here because of meaningless words like destiny and fate…”
“No, I came here because of this.”
Yeonhee Woo took out the contract envelope.
“…I cannot be responsible for your life. Coming with me into a dungeon could mean death. What we would be doing is incredibly dangerous.” I read out loud the sections she had highlighted.
“I brought fried chicken since I didn’t know what you like. Do you like fried chicken?”
“Stop trying to change the subject.”
“I’m grateful since you were right. I had been only thinking about how I could end my life with less pain before you called me.”
However, her face was not that of a suicidal person, and her expression was actually bright.
“Won’t you let me in?”
She hadn’t just brought only food and the envelope. Her trunk was filled with her supplies and other items.
“I thought you would not need medicine, so I brought you clothes.”
She had brought me clothes, lotions, and innerwear. Since she brought everything for adult males, it seemed that she decided to treat me as one. She spoke quickly as I stared at her.
“I’m sorry, I’ll be back. Call me when you’re done.”
She went out and came back.
“I thought they would suit you.”
“Getting these didn’t take two days, right?”
“I read the contracts you gave me on the way back that day. I thought about returning immediately, but this was about my life.”
“You understood the contract?”
“I read it countless times, and saw that I was betting my life on insignias and items.”
“I chose this.”
Yeonhee Woo had signed the contract and specified money instead of items and insignias, and it was a realistic choice. She would get two hundred million won as a contract signing fee, an annual payroll of a billion won, and an incentive of five hundred million per dungeon entry, and another five hundred million for survival. Her death compensation would be three billion won. (EN: 200,000,000 won = $321,599. 1,000,000,000 won = $1,607,997. 500,000,000 won = $803,998. All conversions are in 1997 won, and 2021 dollars. ^_^ )
I calculated what new hunters earned to this era’s currency, and while this contact would have been given only for E class awakened, who could legitimately be called hunters, I gave her more for her rarity.
“Who’s your beneficiary?”
“What do you mean? Don’t you want your contract signing fee?”
I was surprised at Yeonhee Woo not showing the reaction I expected, and she seemed to be more conscious of the cash I got out of the bank. She seemed to be on the lookout, and I put the bags of money in the trunk and got in the car.
Her expression was rigid, and I stopped her from hitting the accel the moment I got in the car.
“Relax. Why, do you think this is black money?”
Two hundred million won in 1998 was a lot of money and could buy an apartment in Gangnam easily. Yeonhee looked like she was thinking of something.
“This money is not illicit, but don’t put it into your bank at once. Tax reports can be difficult, open a safe deposit box. Let’s go to Gangnam and not a hospital.”
She seemed small and timid, but she drove fast and fiercely. It seemed to be out of desperation rather than skill. I thought I may die on the road and not in a dungeon.
“Where are we going?”
Yeonhee Woo slowed down as I asked.
“You should be full of questions, but you’re quieter than you had been at school.”
“Think what you wish.”
“You’re waiting for me to speak? That’s nice.”
“I did not sign that contract lightly. I received…money.”
“Yes, well. You win. I’ll tell you who I am. Hey, watch the speed.” As silly as it sounds, in this situation, the source of my funding was what weighed heaviest in her mind.
“When did you first get your powers?”
“During middle school.”
Yeonhee Woo added on after a beat.
“After my first period.”
“It was like this for me since birth, and I have been doing this for a long time.”
It was then Yeonhee Woo looked at me with wide eyes. I pointed upfront rather than saying anything until we were safe again.
“Why did you choose money? What are you thinking? I don’t think you would want to leave money for your family if you die.”
Her family relations were likely beyond repair.
“An Escape Insignia does not come easily. You won’t have one, according to your contract if you become my employee.”
“You won’t throw me away, right?”
“Then, it’s all right. You’re my teacher now.”
“You hadn’t had any trouble, right?” As usual, I asked the guard if everything was ok.
“What happened to your shoulder?”
“I’m on a trip since business is not good. Thank you for asking.” Obviously I ignored his question , and implied I got injured while playing, like skiing.
We waited for the elevator after I greeted the young guard, and I saw Yeonhee Woo watch me through the elevator mirror. Her face had been rigid until now, and our eyes met through the mirror. She spoke like she could not help it.
“What do you mean by since birth? I don’t understand.”
“I was born a baby with an adult’s mind.”
Yeonhee Woo did not ask if it was possible, as she already could feel others’ feelings. She was probably trying to understand.
“I was different from you and tried to hide my abilities from my family as much as possible. I’m doing so even now.”
“Yes, my parents know that I’m different from other children in physical and mental capacity, but they know only that. What can I say? I have the strength to fight monsters?”
We arrived on the office floor, and the inside brightened after I passed the fingerprint security system. She seemed to be not surprised with what she saw, and she walked up to the target with the daggers stuck on it. She tried to take one out but did not have the strength and turned her head in embarrassment.
“I do not want to be a burden to you. Dungeons are dangerous places, aren’t they?”
Yeonhee Woo seemed determined.
“I hope you’re not just talking.”
“You will have to maintain that mindset. Once you become useless…”
Yeonhee spoke the words I had been about to say.
“I will be thrown away, probably.”
Yeonhee Woo was calmly accepting that tragedy.
“You don’t have to prove yourself now. Come and sit.”
While Yeonhee Woo sat down at the table, I found the notebook with the Canine Pawn drawing. I showed that page to Yeonhee Woo.
“You said you wanted to see a monster.”
“Don’t be surprised. They’re about my size and will come in packs of tens.”
“Do they walk?”
“They walk, run, and fly.”
“They jump like they fly. Can you fight against them? While that is a drawing, if you saw them in the flesh, you probably won’t be able to move.”
“I won’t like this, but you will have to prepare me.”
Yeonhee Woo replied. If her physical strength was strong, it would have been all right. However, she looked too frail, and her determined face was a bit cute.
“You don’t have to fight them, and you shouldn’t.”
“Everything’s over if it comes to that, as either I’m dead or you have to face the monsters yourself. However, I need to prepare you enough that you can shoot arrows, even if I did not scout you to do so.”
“What did you expect? I’m not going to train you as a warrior.”
Yeonhee Woo’s expression suddenly loosened.
“My ability is empathic healing, right?”
She was right for once.
“So, let’s see if you’re going to be just a healer or can become MORE.”
I had been waiting for this. I had gotten a challenger box when I was first awakened and when I first discovered a dungeon. What if I created a party for the first time?
[You invited Yeonhee Woo to the party.]
I accessed the System and sent the invite, and Yeonhee Woo also looked at the air. She would have received the message.
“Repeat after me. Accept.”
She did so carefully.
[Yeonhee Woo has joined your party.]
[Congratulations. You have formed a party for the first time.]
First! I loved that word and almost screamed. I stared at the air.
[You have received a ‘bronze box’ as your first-time reward.]
I received just a bronze box, but I could accept that. I was grateful for getting one since forming a party was not that much of a risk. However, maybe having Yeonhee Woo join my party was considered a risk.
Edited by Userunfriendly