Chapter 29.2 – Gathering (4)

“Really… I hate that annoying smile every time I see it,” Marie grumbled as she walked out of the classroom and back to her dorm.
Instead of calling it grumbling, it was more like backbiting.

I was curious as to why Marie disliked Rina, but she didn’t say anything.
Initially, I tend to avoid getting involved in things like this until they are willing to talk about it themselves.
Instead, it is better to change the atmosphere to another topic.

I looked at Marie and gently mentioned the other topic of the past week.
“Are you going to the gathering tomorrow too?”

“Even if I don’t want to go to an event like that, I have to.
Because I’m the daughter of the Duke of Requilis.
I need to build up connections in advance.”

Nicole had said that the gathering was an event where freshmen got together, laughed, and chatted a lot, but after hearing Marie’s side of the story, I think it was more than that.
Like she said, connections—or rather, personal connections—are the most important aspect of aristocratic life.
There will be no one to help you in a crisis if you have no connections, and above all, politics is an essential issue for nobles.

This gathering of freshmen may just be a friendly get-together event for commoners, but it was a networking opportunity for aristocrats.
Simply put, it can be viewed as a rehearsal for one’s political and personal future.

Looking at me,  Marie asked, “You said you were going to attend, too, right? I heard it from Rina.”

I’m not sure when she heard it from her, but it’s certainly true, so I nodded.
Marie’s fine brows furrowed slightly as I affirmed it.
Her expression of dissatisfaction was evident on her face.

She asked, “You really have a knack for making people uncomfortable.
Rina didn’t pressure you, did she? Be honest with me.”

“Absolutely not.
Can’t I participate voluntarily?”

“Well…” At my denial, Marie opened her blue eyes and studied me.
As Cecily mentioned before, I tend to show my inner feelings on my face too much.

Although Marie can’t read my expressions to the level of mind-reading like Cecily, she could make a guess based on the color of my face.
So I was somehow keeping my facial color from changing by calming my mind.

After a while, Marie, who had been staring at me intently, withdrew with an ambiguous expression.
Fortunately, the color of my face did not change.

“Is it really voluntary? ‘I hope Rina will attend’- didn’t you say it with this tone?”

“Absolutely not.”

As much as she hates Rina, Marie knows Rina well.
To throw her off even more, I added, “And I even bought a suit.”

“A suit?”


“Hmm…” When I said that I had bought a suit, she let out a strange sigh and looked me up and down.
It seemed as if she wanted to make a comment, and I felt bad.

Eventually, Marie nodded and spoke, as if she had finished her evaluation of me.
Her voice sounded satisfied as she said, “A suit would look pretty good on you.
Who did you buy it from?”

“Uh… I don’t know.
My sister picked it for me.”

“And the price?”

“Was it 7 gold and 99 silver?”

“Huh? Is that all you can do?”

Hearing her say that, I sighed inwardly.
She really is a duke’s daughter, after all.
8 gold…no, a whopping 800,000 won in Korean currency, was treated as ‘barely adequate’ from her perspective, huh.

Recalling her family background, I asked in reverse, “And how about you?”

“Oh, I brought something from my family home.
My father gave it to me as a birthday present.
It’s a dress designed by the renowned Zelt for me.”

Mari stated this confidently, but I had no idea who Zelt was.
Perhaps he was a sewing craftsman.

Fabric for making clothes, such as training suits or leggings, was well-developed in this world.
That’s because alchemy replaced chemistry here, and the recipe was widely distributed, allowing for some mass production.

Making a dress, on the other hand, was a different story.
Because no sewing machine has been invented here yet, you must sew by hand, stitch by stitch.
Even if commoners don’t know much about it, nobles’ clothes are made by artisans, so the price is exorbitant.

“It must be very expensive.”

“Of course.
Even if you take an educated guess, it should easily exceed 100 golds.
Well, it’s still cheap in comparison to Zelt’s.”

I don’t understand how rich people can afford to pay 10 million won for a single dress.

Marie smiled like a mischievous child as she talked.
She went on to make a confident declaration to me as she stated, “Don’t fall in love with me when you see me in my dress.
Even my brother reluctantly said that I was pretty.”

I responded with just three short words to her prank.
“You’re still pretty.”


“You’re pretty enough now.”

“Uh…uh…” She must have realized I was direct but sincere.
In an instant, her snow-white skin turned red.
My response had to have been too embarrassing.
However, it is true that Marie is a beautiful woman.
And I just said it straight out.

“Uh…I…that’s…uh…” Marie was restless for a long time after that and couldn’t speak easily.
Her face was so red that if you pressed her cheek with a finger, red water might drip down.

Seeing that, I thought I shouldn’t have said it, but she was the one who joked with me first.
To be honest, I didn’t want to take it back because I was sincere even if it was said as a joke.

“Uh…that…thank you.
I’m a bit embarrassed to hear that from you, not anyone else.”

“Eh? What’s wrong with me then?”

“You’re just…blunt, and if you lie, your face usually shows signs of it, right? So… Anyway, um, that’s right.” Marie nodded, her face flushed, and then shut her mouth again.

After a while, Marie, who had been walking in silence beside me while staring at the ground, glanced at me.



“Am I really pretty?”

“If you don’t believe me, ask someone else.
If you ask ten people, ten would say you are pretty.”


Was my answer that good? Marie smiled broadly at my direct response.
In contrast to her shy first impression, her adolescent girl-like freshness was coming out.
Marie’s different side struck me in a new way when such a heartwarming smile appeared without my knowledge.



“Will you definitely come to my mansion during vacation?”

Is it just my imagination that those words came out of nowhere? This friendly atmosphere right now, and Marie’s reaction, felt a bit strange.
Anyway, there must be a good reason and I had no intention to reject it.

“Of course, I will come.
Didn’t you say that the writer of Xenon’s Saga is also coming?”

After hearing about it from Marie, I sent a letter to my father.
And my father wrote back that his tail had never been stepped on, so it was very likely an impersonation.
I was relieved to hear that, but I was more interested in the identity of the impersonator.
What kind of idiot would try to con not just anyone but a high-ranking Duke?

Marie listened to my words and blinked as if belatedly realizing something.
She said, “Ah~ that? I forgot to tell you, Isaac.
My dad said he was an impersonator.”


“It was an impersonator.
We investigated because there were numerous suspicious circumstances.
We found out that in the past, he was a well-known con artist.
Now that Xenon’s Saga is so well-known because he attempted to impersonate such a renowned author, that made it easier for him to be caught.”

It was an embarrassing and futile outcome for a scammer like that, but in retrospect, it was inevitable.
If I was a duke, I wouldn’t believe such a claim so easily and would send someone to investigate meticulously.
In other words, the impersonator dug his own grave.
He had hoped to make a lot of money, but even if his opponent, the duke, were a naive fool, it was too late.

Marie went on, “My dad also met the impersonator once, and the kind of calluses that only people who write for a long time have? There was no such thing.
Don’t you have those too, Isaac?”

“This?” I raised my hand and showed her the ‘pen-hooks’ she described.
Marie checked the pen-hook on my middle finger and nodded her head vigorously.

That’s right.
My dad also got a callus on that side while doing so much paperwork.
But I think yours are even worse than my dad’s.”

“Well, I tend to study hard.” I’ve already polished my response for this kind of situation, huh.

Marie listened to my answer and looked at my hand with a puzzled expression, then asked in an anxious voice, “…Then won’t you come to our mansion?”

“Huh…?” I thought deeply about her question. I’m sorry to say to you, Marie, but since the invited writer has already been exposed as an impersonator, there is no reason for me to visit your mansion, is there?

‘In other words, there’s no need to take risks and go…’ The duke hired someone to investigate and catch the impersonator, and after listening to Marie’s story, it’s obvious her dad seems to be a keen observer.
Therefore, the moment I meet the Duke and shake his hand, he will likely notice the existence of my so-called pen-hook.

I can tell her dad the duke that it’s because I study a lot, just like I told Marie, but it’s natural that doubts about a person grows quickly from the moment they first creep up.
In particular, since the duke is the kind of person who will keep all possibilities in mind, it is unlikely that he will assume the author of Xenon’s Saga to be just an elderly sage.

Above all, I’m not a pervert, and the tiger’s mouth is wide open, so there’s no reason to risk my head…

I glanced at Marie, who had an uneasy expression on her face, and carefully brought out an answer.
I’m sorry for Marie, but it’s right to reject what might be dangerous.


“Ack… you.
Don’t just tell me no.”

Marie grumbled in disappointment, then muttered to herself softly, as if she had a flash of inspiration.
She gently touched her chin, as if she seemed to be planning something, yet her expression was solemn.
What kind of serious scheme is she hatching? I couldn’t help but feel uneasy when I saw her serious face for the first time while I was with her.

Her voice mumbled, far too low for me to hear, “If it doesn’t work, make it happen… If he doesn’t come, make him come…”


“…All right, fine.
Isaac?” Marie, after muttering in an inaudible voice, smiled as she called me.

I was filled with dread and responded firmly, “…What?”

“I’m not inviting you, but will you decline my dad’s invitation too?”


Now she’s using her dad’s back to cast a gabulgi[1]? Even when I realized it with a puzzled expression, Marie only smiled.

She went on, “Though I didn’t say it, my father is also interested in you, you see.
He mentioned how much knowledge a student needs to teach history.
Besides, if I do well in history, he’ll be even more interested, right?”


“What do you want to do? Will you come when I ask…or when my father asks?”

I sighed inwardly.
“Okay, I’ll go.
We can go.
You’re so mean.”

“Good!” Marie clenched her hands in delight when I replied, with the implication that I was giving up.
I shook my head as I observed her selfish joy.

At the very least, it was still Marie, so I reluctantly accepted it.
If it were someone else, I would reject it completely.
Marie may not have realized it, but the situation at hand was clearly one where she used ‘Noble Authority.’ It was an act far removed from the Requilis family’s ideology of ‘Noblesse Oblige’.

But if I told Marie about it now, she might be shocked.
It would be better for both me and her if I buried this issue in my heart.

Furthermore, seeing Marie wandering around being happy made my most negative thoughts fade away.

“So you’re really coming? If you suddenly say no, I’ll scold you.”

Don’t worry, that will never happen.”

“Okay, good.
Then see you at the gathering tomorrow! Bye~!” Marie waved her hand vigorously and moved to the girls-only dormitory.

I also waved my hand and headed to the boys’ dormitory.
As soon as I got back to the dorm, I threw off my school uniform and dropped myself on the bed.
A soft sensation permeated my entire body after doing so and I felt a strong desire to rest like this.

‘Even if there happens to be a duke, tomorrow at the gathering…’

The Freshman Gathering is an event that brings together not only Academics students but also Non-Academic students.
Nicole said I didn’t have to worry, but I was still worried.

Because Jackson was eager to eat me right now.
I wondered what insults I would receive at the gathering.
Of course, since I’m treating Jackson like an adult, despite his arrogant behavior, it’s okay.
Even if a guy whose head hasn’t matured yet is screaming insults at me, it probably won’t evoke any feelings.
Even being tainted with the ‘Chosen People’ ideology felt like a middle school illness, and it did not resonate with me.

‘By the way, will Leona attend?’ I suddenly remembered Leona, the beastkin girl.
Will she come to the meeting tomorrow? To be honest, given her circumstances, there’s a good chance she won’t show up.

I lay on the bed, staring blankly at the ceiling before turning my head slightly.
My clothes for tomorrow were on a hanger in the closet.
That suit alone was worth over 800,000 won.
‘I hope it’s worth it.’

With that thought, I reluctantly jumped out of bed.
It’s a waste to lie here doing nothing like this.
In this case, it is better to work on my manuscript.

Then, instead of the lecture notebook, I sat at my desk and opened a notebook that summarized the current development of Xenon’s Saga.
The story development and episodes were meticulously organized, and the characteristics and rough descriptions of the characters were also recorded.

‘For the Seven Deadly Sins story arc, regarding Anger…let’s go with beastmen.
If I add the setting that a beastman family was massacred by humans, and even betrayed by other beastmen…’

I took the magic pen my father had gifted me from my front pocket and began writing.

[1] The word is used when someone asks an unavoidable, irresistible question.

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