Ch 45 – Mystery (2)
“Hmm, what's up, Neike?” I asked, glancing at Siena, who still clung to my right arm.
Despite the curious gazes of the surrounding students, Siena showed no signs of letting go.
But something felt different this time.
Neike had initiated the conversation, and it didn't seem like he came to share a joke.
Quickly, I gathered my thoughts.
'It must be related to the investigation of the magic dungeon incident.' Neike had been asked by Senior Professor Rok to investigate the first-year students.
'At this point, he must have already received the request' The investigation team was probably formed by now.
However, it was a futile effort.
Neike's team would discreetly investigate the first-year students, but they would find nothing.
The culprit wasn't a student but an instructor.
Only after the culprit had brought most of his cronies into the academy would they act.
It was incredibly frustrating when I played through that episode.
I would never have handled it that way.
“Anyway…” I pondered.
Was Neike inviting me to join the investigation team? I didn't want to intentionally interfere with the story, but I saw no reason not to participate.
The other team members would take care of it.
I just had to be on board.
'Just by being part of the investigation team, my reputation score will increase, and I'll earn significant extra points in practical evaluations' As I was lost in these thoughts, Neike appeared troubled.
this is a conversation that needs to be held between the two of us,” he said, looking at Siena, who was still clinging to my right arm.
It was clear he wanted her to leave.
'But this fool, I mean Neike, she's going to hear everything anyway.' Siena's spirit magic was unknown to most and Neike had no affinity for spirits.
I gazed at Siena for a moment.
“Hehe, I understand.
Building relationships with classmates is important.
don't take too long, okay?” Siena obediently left the classroom, although she would likely send a spirit to eavesdrop.
But for now, Siena was out of earshot.
Turning my attention back to Neike, I inquired, “So, what's is it that requires just the two of us?” Neike looked around the classroom where a few students still lingered.
“Would you mind if we changed locations?” he asked.
“Understood,” I replied.
I followed Neike to the exclusive dormitory of the Hero Department.
The Hero Department's exclusive dormitory was a space that clearly showcased the academy's merit-based approach, granting residence only to the top 10 students regardless of age, status, or race.
“Let's go in,” Neike said, opening the door to a room and stepping inside.
I followed suit.
The room was filled with familiar faces—Piel, Jang Woohee, Aisha, Andrew, Eshild.
Alongside Neike and me, a total of seven people were present.
'Andrew wasn't part of the group in the original story.' It seemed that the future had been altered.
But that worked in our favor.
Andrew, the top magician among the first-year students, was incredibly talented.
He might prove to be a valuable asset to the investigation rather than an obstacle.
'Let's see how things unfold before making any decisions.' Poor Andrew, always appearing wherever Aisha went.
Unrequited teenage love can be quite bitter.
“Nice to see you all,” I greeted, to which Piel responded with a slight hesitation.
The other members' gazes fell upon me, their expressions somewhat ambiguous.
'Have they already figured out my plan to freeload?' I wondered.
And I could understand why.
Among 200 students, it hardly seemed fair for the top 10 to share their achievements with someone ranked 181st like me.
“Theo, you can sit here,” Neike said, placing a chair in front of me.
It was a high-quality piece, rivaling the one in my own room.
Neike certainly didn't purchase it with his own money.
The difference in the dormitories of top-ranked students was apparent, even in terms of furniture.
“You mentioned it would be a conversation between the two of us, but there are others here,” I pointed out, gracefully taking a seat on the offered chair.
Neike cleared his throat and began.
“I apologize, Theo.
It's an urgent matter.
As you may have noticed, we haven't caught the culprit behind the magic dungeon incident yet.” “That seems to be the case,” I promptly replied.
There was no need to feign ignorance, even as a freeloader.
“After the incident, several professors formed an undercover investigation team.
We thoroughly examined all the faculty members as there was no sign of external interference.
But so far, we haven't discovered any leads regarding the culprit.” Neike wore a sullen expression.
Of course, it was only natural not to find any clues.
The culprit must have manipulated the circumstantial evidence using a high-level magic artifact, making it challenging to counter, even with adequate preparation.
I glanced at Neike, and he seemed to understand my thoughts.
“Therefore, I believe the culprit must be among the students,” he concluded.
“That's a possibility,” I nodded nonchalantly.
In the original story, the culprit would be apprehended by the upcoming Friday.
Even if I didn't expose the criminal, they would be caught eventually.
No one had died in this incident, so keeping quiet wouldn't weigh heavily on my conscience.
I shifted my gaze to the members.
“So, what's the reason you called me here?” It was likely a request to join their investigation team, but I wouldn't be the first to mention it.
The situation would be more favorable if they took the initiative out of impatience.
However, the way the members were looking at me seemed odd.
'What's with them?' Couldn't I take things a bit more easily? Given that I had taken over the body of a third-rate extra, they could at least show me a little consideration.
“Hey,” Piel called out with a stern expression.
“What?” She let out a deep sigh before speaking.
“I have no evidence, but I'll be frank.” “Go ahead,” I encouraged her.
Piel bit her lip tightly.
“It wasn't you, right?” What kind of nonsense was she spouting? I glared at her.
“I don't quite understand.
Say it again.” “You…
aren't the culprit who caused the magic dungeon incident, right?” Piel maintained eye contact with me, showing her seriousness.
“Hah.” ···Freeloading, what nonsense.
How did things go so wrong? Huuuuh······.
I took a deep breath.
“Why do you think so?” “Because you've changed too much in a short time.
It's like time flows differently for you alone.
Have you made a pact with the Archdemon? Only someone who has would exhibit such traits.” “I've simply obtained a new trait.” Archdemon? What utter nonsense.
An Archdemon's discerning gaze was particularly acute.
There were geniuses all over the continent who would sell their souls to make a pact.
“But that explanation simply isn't enough,” Piel stated, her gaze fixed on Theo.
Her eyes burned with crimson rage.
“No trait can alter a person's personality so rapidly.
The exceptional leadership you displayed in the magic dungeon and your composed demeanor in extreme situations—it's too extraordinary.” Piel had observed numerous active heroes, even encountering several who ranked within the top 10.
Yet, none could compare to Theo.
Despite his lack of strength, he resembled a superhero from a fairy tale.
His transformation was extraordinary.
However, if Theo had indeed made a pact with a great demon, everything would fall into place.
Piel knew all too well how people changed when they entered a contract with a great demon.
Merely recalling the horrors from that time was enough to make her feel as if she were losing her mind.
“…You can still turn back now.
Tell me the truth,” Piel pressed, gnawing at her lips.
It was a sight she, always proud and filled with righteous competitive spirit, had never shown before others.
But Theo simply stared back at her with vacant eyes, saying nothing.
His sorrowful gaze shattered the last remnants of her rationality.
Piel's scream erupted like a wail, causing the other members to gaze at me with apprehension.
My boiling mind swiftly cooled down.
…It's rather considerate of them to confront me directly instead of scheming behind my back, implying that this can still be resolved.
Even though they're prospective superhumans…
they're still in their mid-teens, just kids.
They're emotional and lack experience.
Naturally, they couldn't grasp the trouble a high-tier magic artifact can unleash.
No signs of external interference had been found.
Despite scrutinizing the faculty members, not even the tiniest clue emerged, indicating that the culprit must be a student.
It was a simple yet rational deduction.
Though I was seething with anger, I understood why they harbored suspicions about me to some extent.
After all, there was likely no one as out-of-place as me in the academy at the moment.
Culprits often behaved conspicuously at the scene of the crime to deflect suspicion.
I possessed all the knowledge of the truth, while they remained in the dark.
“I am not the culprit, nor have I made a pact with a great demon,” I stated firmly.
However, there would be consequences for carelessly suspecting someone.
The matter was too grave to be dismissed just because they were young.
“You still…” Piel began.
“Give me two days, and I will apprehend the true culprit behind the magic dungeon incident,” I interjected.
“What?” Piel's voice trembled with agitation.
“Do you have a loud mouth but deaf ears? If you grant me two days, I will expose the real perpetrator responsible for the magic dungeon incident.” “What do you…” “Just remember this.
I definitely won't forget today's humiliation,” I declared, rising from my seat and exiting the room.
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