essentially “Would you like to go out with me?”)
“Hmm.
Sure.
That’s the correct sentence.”
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I nodded my head and only then did Lee Yu-ha slightly smile.
She looked better when smiling.

If she were to later find out the double meaning that phrase had in Japanese, she would probably try to freeze me alive.

***
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After parting ways with Lee Yu-ha in front of the school gates, I continued going back home and finally arrived at the neighborhood the boarding house was located in.

I got off the bus, and as soon as I got off the main road and started walking up the hill, the light coming from the street lamps disappeared and it became dark, but the moon and the stars were bright, so I had no trouble finding my way.
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Right now, there are no street lamps, and it is a residential area far from downtown Gyeongseong.
Still, it will probably be redeveloped as Seoul expands, and it would end up becoming one of the most expensive neighborhoods in Seoul.
Whereabouts would this be in the future? Seongbuk-gu?

I opened and went through the gate of the boarding house as I thought this, and the boarding house daughter, who had been in the kitchen, came out wiping her hands on the apron she was wearing.
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“Welcome back.”
“Hey.”
“Did you have dinner? Or do you want me to set the table?”
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Hmm.
I looked at my watch and saw it was half-past seven.
I considered going out to eat and then returning for a bit, but……

If I wanted to dine out, I would have to go all the way to downtown Gyeongseong, and it would be a pain to lose my way back when it was dark.
And on top of that, since I had been trekking a mountain all day long, I was quite tired, so I didn’t want to wander around anymore.
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“Sure.
I’ll dine in.”
“I’ll bring it in a bit.…… Ah! What about the bento? Did you like it?”
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Oh, that’s right—the lunchbox.
I took the empty lunchbox out of my bag and handed it over to her as I said.

“Yeah.
She enjoyed it.”
“?”
“?”
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Oh, duh……!

“Ah! I enjoyed it.
I meant, I enjoyed it, yeah! My tongue’s getting twisted because I’m tired!”
“Suuure…….”
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Hmm.
I felt a bit sorry.
After all, she probably had put effort into packing me that lunch, but someone else ate it…….
But still, it probably was enough that that other person enjoyed it, right? It would probably be okay since the daughter of a nobleman enjoyed it, right?

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I was about to take my shoes off and go into my room when the boarding house daughter asked me as she was about to go into the kitchen.
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“What about tomorrow’s bento?”
“I’m not going to school tomorrow.”
“Okay.
I will only prepare your dinner, then.”

So, I went into my room, had dinner, folded the table back up, and rolled around in my room as I thought.
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‘That was good.’

First day of school.
I have achieved quite a bit today.

Thanks to the large quantity of mana I had absorbed hunting down the monsters, my status window would be completely restored in a few days, and apart from that, I had managed to get a scholarship, so I would get some extra money on top of the tuition fees my family sent me.
Moreover, I managed to clear up the misunderstanding with Lee Yu-ha.
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What was left was, well, beating Murasaki once the actual semester started.
I wasn’t too worried about that…….

On top of that, we had a day off, so I could take it easy tomorrow and look around downtown Gyeongseong and try different things.

Well, let’s go to bed.

I thought about what I would do all day tomorrow and went to sleep early.

Early bird sleeping……!

***
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At the same time, in a traditional Japanese-style house with a colorful Japanese garden.

Renka raised her sword high and leered at the bamboo target in front of her.
After standing like that for a moment,
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『Hyaaaaaaaaaah!』

With a sharp cry, Renka lowered her sword, moving her feet with lightning-like speed.

   Slash /
       /
  \ Slash
   \
  Slash /
      /

She slashed down three times in an instant.
However, the bamboo target was standing the same as before she cut it down, without even the slightest of movements.

And a moment later,

Whoosh!
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A fire roared out of the thin slashes carved onto the bamboo target, and as it slowly burned up, the bamboo target failed to maintain its balance and finally collapsed into pieces.
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Clatter……

Renka swung her sword a couple of times before sheathing it.
Then she closed her eyes for a moment and caught her breath.

‘Phew…….’

After taking a deep breath, she recalled what had happened earlier at school.

During the pre-field practice, Baek Cheol-yeon and his squad members defeated a medium-sized, high-level monster that appeared on the training grounds.
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Renka knew that, although it was being said that every single squad member had come together to hunt it down, this had only been possible due to Baek Cheol-yeon’s command.

He had rejected her proposal, gathered that squad of deadweights that would surely drag him down, and managed to hunt down a medium-sized, high-level monster as if to show off.

However, Renka knew.
She knew that that squad wouldn’t be able to last long.

No matter how much of an effort Baek Cheol-yeon made, there were too many elements of conflict in that squad.
This was the conclusion she had come up with from what she had seen and heard.
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Renka slightly raised her head and looked into the dark.

On the surface, only Renka lived in this vast mansion, apart from the few employees that lived in a distant, detached house……

But Renka could see them, the black figures on the roof and the trees… They were a group of ninjas that escorted her from the dark.

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Two groups of escorts had been sent to Gyeongseong for Renka by her father in Kagoshima.
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The Shimazu Gumi during the day and the ninja unit in the dark of the night.

Renka looked into the darkness in which the ninjas were hiding and softly said.

『Osue.』
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As soon as she said this, a girl in black appeared behind Renka, down on one knee.
With a small figure, she, like the other ninjas, was wrapped entirely in black clothing and had her hair to one side, covering half of her face.

Katsurai Osue.
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Out of all the ninjas hidden in the dark, she was the one that Renka had secretly planted among the cadets to spy on them.
Without looking back, Renka raised her sword and directed it towards the bamboo target again as she spoke to Osue.

『What happened today.
Tell me everything without missing a single detail.』
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Since Osue had been assigned to the same squad as Baek Cheol-yeon, Renka, who had developed an interest in him, had given Osue the task of monitoring his every movement on campus.

Osue kept her head bowed as she gave her report to Renka.
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『Lady, I shall give you my report.』

Having received Osue’s report, Renka became even more convinced that Baek Cheol-yeon’s squad would not be able to last long.

The relationship between Lee Yu-ha, the daughter of a fallen anti-Japan noble family, and Yang Bok-ja, the daughter of a pro-Japan businessman, was one of the polar opposites that could never mix together.
The argument that they had during the day was just the beginning of it all.
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Murasaki was the leader of a gang, so there was no way he would ever accept a Joseon person like Baek Cheol-yeon as his leader.

On top of that, Murasaki had even informed the Head of Cadets about Baek Cheol-yeon and Lee Yu-ha’s use of Joseon language.

This, too, was a sign of the inevitable infighting.
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What came up next was the most critical bit.
According to Osue’s report, when the Head of Cadets had called up the both of them, Baek Cheol-yeon had used Lee Yu-ha as an excuse to avoid getting punished.

‘This, Shirabayashi-san, was your biggest mistake.’
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In front of Lee Yu-ha, someone who had gotten angry just from someone calling Japanese the “national language”, he had assured the Head of Cadets that he would teach her Japanese.
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‘Hehe…… You should not have done this to Lee-san.’

Lee Yu-ha is the child of a fallen noble family; although her Japanese was still poor, and she was clumsy, Renka acknowledged that she had great talent.
Earlier today, when Baek Cheol-yeon and his squad hunted the Onikumo, Lee Yu-ha’s contribution had been quite substantial.
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With that amount of talent, it was only a matter of time before Lee Yu-ha stood out among the cadets.

Not just her talent, but she came from a noble family that, even if it had fallen, had deep roots, and her graceful and elegant appearance…….
She would soon become the idol and center of the Joseon cadets on campus.
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At this point, if Baek Cheol-yeon were to get along better with Lee Yu-ha, Renka’s plan to get close to Baek Cheol-yeon and find out his secret would end as a failure, but,

‘Their relationship has already been broken beyond repair.’

Fortunately for Renka, that wouldn’t happen.
Due to this incident, Baek Cheol-yeon and Lee Yu-ha would gradually grow further apart.
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Baek Cheol-yeon had to attend school while enduring the suppression and disregard from Japanese cadets.
And if Lee Yu-ha came to dislike Baek Cheol-yeon, it was obvious that he would end up being ostracized by the Joseon cadets.

Renka slightly opened her eyes and smiled.
If Baek Cheol-yeon ended up being pushed away by Joseon cadets like Lee Yu-ha, there would only be one place he could turn to—

Osue added.
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『Afterwards, the two of them conversed for a while longer outside of the school gates.
However, as they spoke in the Joseon language, I was not able to understand most of their conversation.
However, at the end of the conversation, cadet Lee said something in Japanese……』

At those words, Renka, raising her sword, became a bit interested and asked indifferently, staring at the bamboo target.
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『Outside the school gates, where they are free to use the Joseon language, Lee-san in Japanese? Hmm…….
What did she say?』

Osue answered.
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『She said, to cadet Shirabayashi, 「Will you go out with me?」……』

Upon hearing this, Renka dropped the sword from her hand.

『WHAT???!!!』

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