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Even if history just proceeded as I knew it, this would still be an issue.
It’s the Japanese colonial period, of all times! There was a chance that people with an occupation that is essential for combat, like Hunters, would be forced into the Japanese military if unlucky.

And yet, is it okay for me to attend the Hunter Academy? No, rather, do I have to attend? I just……

‘Academy or whatever, should I just get out of Joseon?’

I held the admission notice in both my hands.

Yes! Let’s just rip this thing apart, leave the cursed land of Joseon, and immigrate to the US.
Even there, whether I work as a Hunter or set up a laundry, I would be able to make ends meet…….

As I thought this, I was ready to rip the admission notice in my hands,

‘…….’

But I couldn’t.

It just felt like too good of a chance.

In the 21st century, in my past, I awakened my powers late, and always lacked the talent to make it into the Academy.
And this had remained forever as a regret throughout my life as a Hunter.

If I had awakened earlier, and due to this, if I had been able to attend the Academy, I wouldn’t have stayed forever a C-class Hunter.

‘But this time…… Wouldn’t it be possible?’

Unlike my previous life, wouldn’t I be able to develop my talents in school and become stronger? Maybe I would be able to get to higher places.

It’s a chance of a lifetime.
Ignoring such an opportunity just because the future is uncertain?

‘Giving up? That’s such a stupid idea.’

I neatly folded the admission notice that I was about to tear up, put it back into my pocket and thought.

‘Let’s at least attend school.’

Even in the 21st century, Hunters who had graduated from the Academy were treated as valuable talents in society, and that shouldn’t be any different in this era.

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In a world where Gates existed, it was clear that the abilities that were nurtured in the Academy and the status of being a graduate would be of huge help living in the chaotic world that was to come.

How could I refuse such an opportunity? No matter what happens, no, rather, since I didn’t know what would happen from now on going forward, I would have to at least get my diploma.

‘But something that keeps worrying me is being forced to serve in the Japanese military……’

I thought back to my historical knowledge once again.

‘Although they started receiving Korean volunteers from 1938, it was only in 1944, at the end of the Pacific War, that students were forcibly conscripted.’

Since we’re in 1939, it will be 1942 when I graduate from this 3-year vocational school.
Even if history in this world flows the way I know it, there would be plenty of time for me to escape Joseon to avoid conscription.

‘Alright.
I’ll at least attend school and improve my skills.
And I’ll run off to the US as soon as I graduate.
It’s not too late to run away after I get my diploma.’

I made this decision in my head and walked towards the boarding house.
A white moon had risen in the dark night sky.

***

Under the full moon in the night sky, somewhere in Gyeongseong.

Water trickled along the bamboo canal.

Water flowed into the bottom bamboo barrel, and the bamboo barrel, unable to overcome the weight of the water flowing into it, tilted over.
The tip of the slowly tilting bamboo piece touched the stone floor,

‘Tap-’

With a clear sound, the accumulated water poured out.
The bamboo barrel, now lighter after pouring all the water out, raised its head again and started filling up with the flowing water.

Trickle, trickle……

If you turned your eyes from the scene that would repeat forever, there was a well-maintained garden full of bonsai cherry trees, and in front of it was a neat but formal Japanese-style mansion.

April, under the full moon of Qingming,

A woman – or rather, would it be more appropriate to say she was a girl – wearing a yukata was walking alone in the garden, surrounded by the fluttering cherry blossoms.

Slim shoulders covered by long black hair that went down to the waist, and a body that drew youthful curves.

However, with sharp eyes that were exposed under her straight-cut bangs, her pointed nose, and thin jawline, there was a charm that could be said was of a mystical woman.

She was the only daughter of the Duke of the Shimazu family, the same family that had reigned in the faraway land of Kagoshima for generations, and at the early age of 17 she was the branch head of the Gyeongseong branch of the Shimazu Gumi Yeopsa Union,

She was Shimazu Renka(蓮花).
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Now wearing a crimson yukata, she was recalling the incidents from earlier in the day when she was wearing a dark blue “Sailor Moon”-style uniform.

That afternoon, when she had received a report of a magical door opening—

She and the Shimazu Gumi had been looking around the Changgyeongwon Zoo, so they were able to get to the site of the incident, Myeongryunjeong 2-jeongmok intersection, quickly, as it was nearby.

As she arrived to the scene, she noticed three “Takoashi(蛸足)”, intermediate level demonic beast, that had just come out of the Demon Gate.

There were not Yeopsas that had arrived before the Shimazu Gumi, only two cadets that were facing the Demons.
Looking at their uniforms, she noticed they were also freshmen of the Gyeongseong Yeopsa Vocational School, like her.

『It is too much for cadets to face.
We should immediately jump in, Lady.』

Standing next to Renka, Takahiro, the sub-branch head of the Shimazu Gumi Gyeongseong branch, and her direct assistant, said, drawing his sword.
However,

『Wait.』

Renka stopped her union members.
This was a great opportunity for her.
It was her chance to see the skills of the other cadets who she may be collaborating with, or competing against in the future.

Soon enough, the two cadets started to move.
Listening to what they were shouting at each other, it seemed they were both from Joseon.
One of them took out his gun and the other grabbed a stick.

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‘Hmm.’

But, surprisingly, the cadet with the stick was very skilfully facing off against the middle-class demonic beast, Takoashi.
It was as if it was not the first time he had faces such a beast.
It seemed that he knew exactly how to defeat it.

But right at the final moment, the mana imbued in the stick was not enough to destroy the Takoashi’s mana stone, and his strategy failed as his colleague panicked and dropped his bullet.

When Takahiro saw this, he snorted and muttered.

『Joseon-jinwa shoganaina.』

Takahiro sarcastically said “there’s nothing Joseon people can do,” but Renka thought differently.
If the weapon this cadet was using had been a proper weapon instead of just a wooden stick, and if his colleague had not made a mistake, he would have actually been able to subdue the Takoashi.

‘How in the world can he fight like that?’

In order to succeed the family business, she herself had been receiving harsh martial arts training within the family even before she started walking, let alone awakening,

And as soon as she Awoke, she became the branch manager of the Shimazu Gumi Gyeongseong branch so she had the same ability and experience as any other active Yeopsa, but this was a special case unique to her.

It was shocking to her that an average boy around her age, other than herself, could fight like that, with the same boldness and situational judgment of an active Yeopsa.

‘In addition, that confident attitude.’

His combat ability was, of course, amazing, but the more surprising thing was this completely unexpected attitude.
When Renka approached him and asked for a handshake and introduced herself,

—I’m Renka, Shimazu Renka.

There was no way that in Joseon, let alone Gyeongseong, there was anybody that wanted to become a Yeopsa would not know about the reputation of the Shimazu family and their Yeopsa union.
But even so,

—Baek Cheol-yeon.

He proudly accepted her handshake without even getting intimidated.
Even though he clearly had his Japanese-style surname on his nametag, he gave his Joseon name, as if to make sure everybody could hear.

That wasn’t all.
There was no sign of him losing any ground when he faced against Takahiro, a member of the family’s entourage and sub-branch head.

All of this was difficult for her to understand.

Most of the Japanese people around her, including Takahiro, would often blame the Joseon people’s manners, saying “Joseon people are servile in front of the strong and savages against the weak”.

She did not agree with that kind of racist prejudices, but since she came to Joseon she had become familiar with ‘submissive Joseon people’, so the perception that ‘it’s not their fault, but it can’t be helped’ had been growing.

However Shirabayashi, no, “Baek Cheol-yeon” was different to all the other Joseon people she had met so far.

There was no trace in him of the gloomy characteristics that people of Joseon had.
No, she even felt the unyielding spirit of someone that was like if he was the owner of this place.

It wasn’t the vanity of common mischief, nor was it the pretense of deceiving himself to build self-esteem.

In Renka’s head, she suddenly remembered the people she encountered when she was a child, traveling with her father to Gurapa* and America.
Baek Cheol-yeon’s confident and free-spirited attitude was like that which was characteristic of people from developed countries in those places.
(*note: old Korean name for Europe)

What kind of person was he?

Renka, looking up at the full moonlit night sky of Gyeongseong, softly muttered.

『Shirabayashi-san.
What…… are you?』

***

“Are you an imbecile……?”

The next day, early in the morning of the day of the entrance ceremony.
As I was about to leave the boarding house’s gate, I realized one important fact that I hadn’t even thought about before, and stood there muttering in shame.

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‘How could I not know that? Shouldn’t I have checked in advance? Am I a freaking imbecile?’

That was, the fact that I didn’t know how to get to school.

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