Mist of the Realms Chapter 2: Chapter 1

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EXPLANATION OF TERMS:
CSAT = College Scholastic Ability Test; a standardized test accepted by South Korean Universities
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Yujin settled herself down on her seat in the middle of the noisy classroom. She would have preferred staying at the fire exit staircase where only few students would hangout or even to stay at the library since the librarian on duty was strict so it would not be as crowded as usual. However, it was only a few minutes before their first class would start. Due to boredom, she just repeatedly tied her wavy black hair in a failed ponytail until she got tired of it after four tries and just settled on the last try as if it was any better than the first three tries—in fact, it was no different.

She was idle for a moment before she let her eyes wander around the classroom. Most of her classmates were already around, chattering as if they owned the classroom yet no one complained, not even the nerds in front of the class minded—they probably did but they had no courage to speak out. Indeed, if delinquents were being brewed in middle school, the finished products were served during high school. That was why Yujin kept quiet as well. She was not a fool nor was she a female protagonist in some drama who seek for the attention of dangerous people.

That was also why she had to pretend to be calm or people might use her weaknesses against her—no matter what the situation was, it was not promising.

She leaned back on her chair, boredom was eating her. The biggest regret she had was the fact that she did not choose the seat beside the windows so she had nothing better to do than to stare at others.

The door at the back then opened, revealing three newcomers—all were fairly tall men (Fine. That was a bit of understatement in Yujin's case), all were good looking, all were intelligent, and all were definitely famous. Yujin just had to turn to them.

The first one who entered was a guy who was smiling so brightly—Lee Seokmin. Among the three, he was the loudest and friendliest. The second guy gave Seokmin a slight push before entering, he was Xu Minghao, a Chinese. He was just around Seokmin's height, probably at 180 cm or shorter—Yujin did not care. Minghao, despite looking so harmless, was a bit too courageous that he could be scary and was good in physically exhausting activities. The last one who entered was Kim Mingyu, that guy who was definitely taller than more than half of the population in their school.

Adding to the fact that they were not some ice princes, Yujin did not need to wonder why they were quite known and why they had lots of friends. But that was not the case—they were a little too perfect that it irked the female. She was pretty sure that something was off with them because no one was supposed to be that perfect. Of course, she knew that no matter what was wrong with them, it had nothing to do with her and it should remain that way. Not wanting to care anymore, she turned away—she would rather waste her time somewhere else than to get involved in someone else's business.

"New victim was found last night, no?" Yujin's ears perked up when she heard her seatmate, Haneul, spoke with another classmate who was sitting right behind her—finally, an interesting conversation!

"I know! It's a man in his 20s this time. I heard that his heart and other vital organs were missing." The girl behind Yujin—Han Jiho—narrated. "I wonder if the killer is actually a cannibal."

"Killers, you mean." Haneul pointed out. "I mean, this is not an isolated case. Same cases occurred in Japan, Hong Kong, and even in Thailand."

Jiho nodded her head. "Then, must be some kind of cannibalistic group."

Yujin furrowed her eyebrows, thinking about the case. Drawing her right thumb near her lips, she slightly chewed on her nail. "This case is so strange." She muttered to herself but was accidentally overheard by the two chattering girls.

"Exactly what I'm saying!" Haneul exclaimed, casually turning her attention to Yujin as if they were close. "Yujin, don't you think that it might have something to do with something supernatural?"

Yujin shrugged her shoulders. She was not a believer of supernatural things but she could not actually say that she did not believe in them either. "Probably just a group of psychotic cannibals." She replied.

Haneul made a face—probably due to the fact that Yujin's answer was not what she wanted to hear—before turning to Jiho to continue blabbing about supernatural creatures and whatnot.

Yujin did not pay that much attention to the two girls again and rather, tried to find something else to do by fumbling with her phone. After all, as much as it was scary, she knew that she could do nothing about the series of killings—whether those people were insane or just some cannibals by nature, Yujin knew that she was a student who had nothing to do with it.


===


"Have any friends yet?" Yujin fought the urge to roll her eyes when their homeroom teacher asked her. Because Yujin was on her cleaning duties (along with two others who flee right after the last bell rang), only her and the older woman remained inside the classroom—with Yujin trying to clean and the older woman pretending to supervise in order to escape from a meeting of some sort inside of the faculty room. "It's just that I and your other teachers noticed that you do not join your classmates so we worry that there might be a problem. You are in second grade in high school already and would be graduating next Academic Year." The teacher explained.

"I'm fine being alone." Yujin replied, trying to not sound rude. She turned to the teacher and smiled in order to reassure the latter. "It's not as lonely as you think." She pointed out. She knew what her teacher was thinking—probably thought that Yujin had an anxiety of some sort or worse, they might have thought that Yujin was depressed. "Worry not, I won't jump from the rooftop." Yujin muttered under her breath but was not enough for her teacher to hear.

"What?" The teacher asked.

Yujin shook her head in response. "No, it's nothing, Miss Song." She replied, carefully placing the broom and dustpan on a corner where they normally placed it.

"Are you going home now?" The teacher—Miss Song as Yujin addressed her—asked. "Go home right away. There is a series of killings going on around our city. I heard that everyone and anyone is targeted so go home early, all right?"

"Yes." Yujin replied in order to avoid any further discussions. In reality though, she was planning on heading to the library first. "Goodbye." After politely bidding their teacher goodbye, she trudged down the seemingly abandoned hallway.

She noticed that since a month ago, the students would either rush home or go somewhere else in a group—too scared of the killings that were occurring around them. It was not that Yujin was not scared—how could she not be when she was a real coward no matter how you look at it? But she found no sense in rushing home or hanging out with friends with the serial murder as an excuse.

As she walked closer to the library, she knew that she was getting farther and farther from the exit. This might be the reason why the hairs on her nape stood up. Then, she shivered. The atmosphere felt so odd that it was making her shiver involuntarily. She gulped, completely freaked out—the calm facade that she had shown everyone else was almost ready to disappear. As quickly as she could, she ran to the library.

A wave of relief hit her system upon seeing the familiar figure of the friendly librarian who was cleaning up—the other library staff had probably gone home since no one else was there.

"Student," The librarian called out in a kind voice. "I will be closing this in ten minutes." She reminded the younger female.

Yujin did not complain and just nodded her head. "All right then. I'll just go grab a book then leave right away." She assured the librarian before skipping towards the farthest bookshelf where the Science books were placed. "Since I could not afford going to a cram school, I always have to borrow the not-so-updated books in this library for CSAT*." She sighed to herself, complaining yet she still took out some books.

She placed the books on the nearby empty table and sat down. She took out her mobile phone to check the time which said that it was only twenty-three minutes past five in the afternoon. Technically, she still had seven minutes before the closing so she decided to browse through the books that she got. Anyway, the librarian would surely notify her before leaving.


===


Yujin opened her eyes to a dark surrounding. She had to blink twice and to squint her eyes before she finally succeeded on adjusting them to the darkness. She looked around her and realized that she was still in the library—she must have fallen asleep when she was busy browsing the books. She unlocked her phone and noticed that it was already six-thirty in the evening. She let out a sigh and stood up.

However, she noticed that she was alone—completely alone in the midst of the darkness. She had never been terrified of the dark but with the constant killings around her, she grew wary of it.

She had to gulp in order to swallow her tears. "H-hello?" She called out in a shaky voice despite fully knowing that she was probably alone. She turned on the flashlight in her phone and slowly made her way to the door—stumbling on some books and other objects on the process—since that was the only exit and the switch for the lights was near the door. "Shit, how can the librarian leave me here all alone? Freak." She breathed, too scared as she walked closer to the door.

She heaved a sigh when she managed to reach the door. She tried twisting the doorknob but it would not budge. "Shit!" She hissed under her breath. She took out her phone to contact someone. Opening her contacts, four names welcomed her—her mother, the very old grandmother who lived across their house, the Chinese restaurant, and the Japanese restaurant. Surely, the last three were out of the question—they could not come even if Yujin begged. However, her mother was also not a choice since she was in Busan to work and would not be back in a while.

Yujin grunted. "How could a librarian be so careless?!" She complained, her hands were knocking on the door. She hoped that at least a janitor would find her there. "Hello?! Is anybody there?!" She yelled at the top of her lungs, pounding on the door. She did not bother turning on the lights, afraid that something might just pop out in front of her eyes. "Anybody?! Help me!"

"Who is it?" Almost two minutes had passed when someone finally reply—a man at that.

Yujin found the voice rather familiar but she could not care less about that—she had to get out of the library. "It's Yujin, Park Yujin! I'm from Class 2-A and I am locked here. It seems like you need a key to open it. Please help me, whoever you are!" She cried in one breath, not caring if she could not keep her calm facade any longer.

There was a pause as if the man was pondering about his choices—as if freeing Yujin from the locked door could be a sin. "I don't have a key." The man replied yet his voice was calm.

Yujin gulped, her world came crumbling down in a second. "I-I see." She stammered. "Sorry for disturbing you." She apologized, sounding calmer than before. However, her hands were shaking because of the thought that she might be forced to spend the night inside the library.

"...so, I'll pick the lock." Yujin's eyes widened upon hearing the man's statement. "However, make sure to not tell anyone about this or we will surely get in trouble—the both of us."

Yujin fervently nodded her head even though she knew that the person outside would not see her. She looked determined. "I promise! I would digest all this together with the dinner that I am going to eat later! I won't utter a word about it." She promised, closing her eyes and gathering her hands together right below her chin as if to pray.

With a click, the door opened—like a miracle.

"Thank—" Yujin paused, gasping at the familiar tall figure of the man in front of her. "Mingyu…" She muttered unconsciously but immediately cleared her throat when the man—Mingyu—raised an eyebrow. "I mean, thank you so much for opening the door for me." She thanked the guy with a smile on her face.

Mingyu simply nodded his head. "We're classmates…right?" He asked as if to confirm.

Yujin was confused—of course, Mingyu did not pay attention to many. "Yes, we are." She replied, returning to her calm facade. "Then, see you around?" She sounded so hesitant because Mingyu was staring at her. Yujin was not blind, she had always known that the guy was handsome—a pair of alluring eyes, heart-shaped red lips, and a perfect sharp jawline. Although Yujin did not care about looks, she could not help but to be intimidated by the stares of the tall guy.

"I'll walk you home." Mingyu volunteered.

"No, no need. My house is really near the school—around fifteen minutes or so." Yujin rejected the offer. Despite the fact that the guy just helped her, she still had her suspicions towards him and his friends because of their oddly perfect nature. Yujin was not dumb, rather than questioning it and trying to go in depth with it, she would just stay away from them.

Mingyu shook his head. "The victim of the killer the other night was killed right beside her house. It was approximately thirty seconds of walk from her doorsteps. Although it happened in Jeju, we cannot be too sure that it won't happen here."

Yujin paused, weighing her options—neither guaranteed her safety. "You cannot be too sure that you'll be safe either. Girls are not the only ones targeted." She said.

"I am stronger than you though." Mingyu reasoned out, smiling which resulted to him showing off his canine teeth—something that the girls found attractive every time he smiled.

Defeated, Yujin nodded her head. There was no point in arguing with Mingyu. She could win, sure, but arguing would take a lot of time. Yujin did not want that; what she wanted was to go home and dive onto her soft bed while covering herself with her thick blanket. "All right, thanks."

Mingyu did not say anything else after that and just started to walk ahead. Yujin followed without being told to do so. The whole walk was quiet yet it was comfortable. The school guards, for some reasons, were nowhere to be found. Yujin did not mind though because they might jump into conclusions.

For the rest of the fifteen minute walk, no one uttered a word. Still, Yujin cautiously observed Mingyu. He seemed nonchalant. His hands were on the pockets of his black straight-cut pants. The buttons of his navy blue blazer were closed like usual and not even his white long-sleeved polo shirt or his black necktie was messy. He had the image of a perfect student indeed. Occasionally, he would turn his head to check on Yujin or to look around as if he were wary of something yet he remained to appear calm.

Yujin, a bit alarmed by how Mingyu was acting, looked around as well. She was scared that someone might suddenly attack them yet that did not happen.

"That's our house." Yujin was the one who broke the silence when she saw her house. Abruptly, the two of them stopped right in front of its gates. "Thank you for sending me home and helping me back in the library. I'll make sure to not tell anybody about it."

"It's not a big deal." Mingyu smiled in response. "You should just remember to go home early. It's not exactly safe around here. You're a girl so the series of killings is not the only thing for you to worry about. There are robberies and abduction cases around here." He lectured her.

Yujin nodded her head, her lips forming a small smile. "Yes, I'll keep that in mind. Thank you."
Mingyu nodded once. "Then, I'll get going now." Upon saying that, Mingyu immediately turned away, walking without too much care. His back looked much more carefree than when they left the school grounds—somehow, it seemed like he was sure that he would not be harmed.

Yujin shook her head, trying to shrug her thoughts off. She should not be bothered because of it, anyway, the boy had helped her. After stealing one last glance at the boy, she entered the house.


===


Clad in her white Hello Kitty shirt and a black sweatpants, Yujin plopped herself on her bed. For some reasons, the day seemed much longer than usual and she felt rather exhausted. Since she had left the books that she was supposed to read in the library, she had nothing else to do but to laze around and to hopefully just fall asleep early.

"I'm still hungry even after eating the left-over kimchi." She groaned, complaining yet made no move to stand up. Due to her inability to cook, she could not afford to prepare something that would truly satisfy her stomach. Mingyu and the other two were the complete opposite—they got great grades during the cooking lesson that occurred weeks ago, especially Mingyu. They were too flawless to the point that it really was suspicious.

Finally, she recalled what happened throughout the day. It was normal, going on as usual yet she had to face unluckiness during the end of the day; the other cleaners for the day left her, she went to the library to borrow books but the librarian forgot to wake her up and eventually locked her up, she asked a random person for help which turned out to be Mingyu, in the end, Mingyu walked her home after picking the lock.

Abruptly, she sat up. She must be missing something. Where was the guard? There should at least be one guard at the gates yet he was nowhere to be found. No, that was not the biggest question. What was Mingyu still doing at the school at that time? Passing by the library was coincidental, sure, but shouldn't he have gone home already? Or at least went to a cram school?

Indeed, there was something wrong with Kim Mingyu. Yujin could not clearly see it but she knew, he was more than what meets the eye—who was he, really?

Furiously, Yujin shook her head, trying to get rid of her thoughts. If she were in the library at that time for a reason, there might also be a good reason as to why Kim Mingyu was still inside the school.

"Pft… more than what meets the eye your ass, Park Yujin. Don't care about him. Don't overthink." Yujin chortled to herself, lying back down on her bed.
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