Chapter 36 - Day 8, Poker
“That look isn’t good on you, Lee Sang-yoon.”
Until I specifically confirmed the killing intent, I hadn’t thought that Lee Sang-yoon was the perpetrator. I disliked Lee Sang-yoon. Lee Sang-yoon also disliked me.
But this wasn’t a matter of emotions. It was just a matter of humiliation. I could tell just by the sour expression on his face. Regardless of the truth, some people just felt hate. "In particular, those eyes aren’t a joke.”
"You are mistaken.” Lee Sang-yoon wasn’t an idiot. His father was the president of a venture company that led the IT boom in the 90s-00s. The son had inherited his father's brain and showed great talent. It was a wall that caused many people to feel frustrated, including me.
He had a lot of pride and couldn’t easily deal with people, but he wasn’t the type to be swept away by emotion and impulse. "If I looked like that, then I wouldn’t have come to school right away. It is just advertising that you have entered the dungeon.” He said.
He was holding a black cylinder in his hand. It was like he was holding a karaoke microphone. The distance between us was nearly three metres. It absolutely wasn’t a simple weapon. It was probably a dart gun or a similar tool with a different effect.
“Hey. Don’t even think about it. Don’t be such an idiot!” I cried out.
"So... did you come to kill ‘me’? Once you tried it, did you enjoy murdering people?”
“...?” A suspicion was forming in my mind, just from his expression. I could tell without asking. Surely, Lee Sang-yoon had already killed a person.
This wasn’t the dungeon but reality. If he didn’t have experience beforehand, then he wouldn’t give off such an obvious killing intent.
Should I try a few more tricks? This guy was someone who could kill. I knew that Lee Sang-yoon was an explorer of the dungeon. I could also reach out and easily remember where he lived.
"But still, isn’t this a little too daring?”
In my experience, the people I met on the fifth floor lived close to me in reality. The 5th floor I was on was probably the area where the explorers of my neighbourhood gathered.
Lee Sang-yoon lived in a pretty good area. 24 pyeong. It was a residential complex villa with more than 20 floors. It was several times bigger than the old building that I lived in. I didn’t know for sure, but it was likely there were quite a few explorers there. “You killed someone from the same building. What if you get caught by the police?” I asked.
“...!” My bet was a success. Lee Sang-yoon had an expression of dismay on his face. It was due to my increased insight. I could now read a variety of clues from a person’s face.
"How do I know this? What else do I know? Did you really completely conceal the evidence? Are you curious?” I was provoking him. “You killed a person. Does you father know?”
“Dog scum!” Lee Sang-yoon cursed and moved quickly. He lunged forward like a fencer, with his cylinder aiming towards me at the same time. It was a completely different move from what I anticipated.
A short but clear sound. I sensed it and turned my body. A cool sensation swept across the side of my head. The cylinder was foldable. There were three rods at the end that looked like a car antenna.
At the same time as Lee Sang-yoon stretching out his hand, it unfolded and something sprang out. If I had moved after it was fired, then I wouldn’t have been able to avoid it. A normal person would die without any exceptions.
Lee Sang-yoon stared at the folded up cylinder in his hand. “What...?” A confused expression formed on Lee Sang-yoon’s face.It was his trump card. I had read the attack, but I wouldn’t have known how to avoid it if I hadn’t experienced a similar weapon before.
I immediately rushed forward. The confused Lee Sang-yoon extended the cylinder again. I didn’t read the trajectory of the cylinder in his hand, but his body. I narrowed the distance using the fairly steep downhill decline. Originally, I wouldn’t have been able to control the downward acceleration and would have fallen. However, now my lower body and ankles were stronger than before and my body was perfectly balanced.
I literally caught Lee Sang-yoon’s wrist. A dagger was shining from his other hand, but I grabbed Lee Sang-yoon’s neck without any hesitation. Once I applied strong pressure, his hands dropped the cylinder and dagger.
“Keok! Keook...!” He struggled to escape from my hand but it was useless. The difference in muscle strength was overwhelming. I threw Lee Sang-yoon’s body upwards. The body of an adult male flew over four metres.
Lee Sang-yoon made a sick sound and rolled across the ground. His body squirmed as he barely managed to raise his head. He was looking at me with shock and hostility. “Nonse... Nonsense, this is... How did a guy like you...?” Lee Sang-yoon was this type of person.
If I subtracted his pride and ego then he was just a body. He was the type to say sarcastic remarks when flirting with a girl. But what if someone provoked his pride first? Even if the other person was a sunbae, he wouldn’t back down.
"Keep listening to my words.” I collected the cylinder and dagger that fell to the ground and put them in my inventory. "Even if you aren’t charged with murder, just being arrested as a suspect will cause a great deal of trouble. Especially for your family.”
“...!!!” It was something from the past. Lee Sang-yoon and I were both rookies. I heard stories from our sunbaes at the drinking party. The son of a great father couldn’t turn out mediocre. He wanted to succeed like his father.
Well, it probably wasn’t as extreme as the families in the dramas. Many of my friends didn’t care about things like this, but Lee Sang-yoon was a different case. He was very sensitive about the dignity of his father, almost to the point of it being an obsession. “Your father will be sad. Isn’t that right? It will probably crack the reputation of the company.”
I pulled out my cellphone and shook it lightly. I acted like there was something on it. Even if he was debating about whether I really had evidence or not, it was overwhelmingly disadvantageous towards him. Of course, it seemed like I had proof. The other person was focused on his own misfortune.
The talents and abilities that could be gained in a dungeon. I believed in my own abilities and made full use of it. The pace easily went my way.
Lee Sang-yoon had an expression that I had never seen from him before on his face. "No... Please.”
I didn’t even have to threaten Lee Sang-yoon’s life or torture him. The hostility completely disappeared from Lee Sang-yoon’s eyes and he was half sobbing.
“Fix your pronunciation.”
"Please. My family... Don’t do any damage to my father. I'd rather...” Lee Sang-yoon closed his eyes. "If I have to die, then I would rather die innocently... You can have my talents if my family...”
Ah. Killing a person in reality really would absorb their talents. Well, apart from that… "This is a little weird.” I chuckled. "Giving me your death. Sang-yoon. It sounds really weird to say. Don’t tell me to kill you like it isn’t a bad thing.”
Getting caught for murder in reality was an ending several times more terrible than dying in the dungeon. I had killed over 20 people on the seventh floor. Playing in the dungeon had no penalty. Why would I challenge the 21st century police just to kill one person?
"Besides, it is pretty crazy. Your talents will be a mental burden thanks to the ‘real’ killing.” Lee Sang-yoon’s body shook with humiliation. “So... On the one hand, I am curious. What were you thinking when you committed a real murder?”
"You, are you saying that your hands are clean?”
"Although there is a little blood, I am not a legal killer.” I leaned forward and stared into Lee Sang-yoon’s eyes. “Therefore. From now on, keep your mouth shut unless it is to answer my questions. If you don’t want to make your father into the father of a murderer, that is.”
Father. The magic words caused Lee Sang-yoon to tremble. Perhaps this was Lee Sang-yoon’s main point. The desire that opened the dungeon for him. An obsession that dominated a person’s life. He wished to die to avoid impacting his father’s reputation. As long as he thought I had a clue to drop his father into hell, Lee Sang-yoon couldn’t resist me.
"Did you kill a person who was already out in the dungeon? Or was it in progress?”
“Already... He was dead.”
"How great. You must not have received any good talents. So are you hungry?”
"W-What do you know?”
"Your voice is going up, Lee Sang-yoon.” I growled and Lee Sang-yoon became silent. It was the first time he felt this type of fear. Appearance. Academics. Fighting skills as well. He realized that I had changed quite a bit from what he knew.
"Did you even feel sorry for crossing that line?”
"Answer it quietly. Who was it? The people who drove you to do this.” If Lee Sang-yoon was in a good position in the dungeon like me, he wouldn’t have to resort to murder. Maybe he was being controlled by someone.
“The 5th floor... I met them for the first time.”
Lee Sang-yoon was on a separate 5th floor from me. But there was also the process of picking the people for the next floor. There, Lee Sang-yoon was 2nd rank. He made very stupid choices. 3rd rank. 4th rank. He made a suggestion up to 6th place.. He was greedy as a leader. He thought he could control the exceptional people.
But Lee Sang-yoon overlooked one thing. The rankings on the fifth floor didn’t reflect the objective grade of people in the dungeons. The rankings would go up even if someone only had a good skill. It was just like the 2nd place person on my sixth floor.
It was also the case with Lee Sang-yoon. The other three were all better than Lee Sang-yoon in all aspects. Rather than being the leader, he was the dead weight during the entire battle. In the end, by the end of the sixth floor, Lee Sang-yoon had barely grown at all. He was treated as a low ranking person.
"On the seventh floor, there was nothing to see.”
“...” The world was wide. His was flat. The prideful man discovered three people with talents that surpassed him. It was to the extent that he was subordinate to them. He felt deprivation and impatience. In addition, he felt utter humiliation.
His mental state was completely destroyed and he took excessive measures. He committed murder in reality because he was desperate to narrow the gap with other people. I picked up my bag that I had placed on the ground.
"Well, I’ve told you everything. So please erase everything on that phone...” Lee Sang-yoon spoke.
I threw my phone towards Lee Sang-yoon without speaking. Lee Sang-yoon’s hands reacted immediately and grabbed the phone.
I slammed a fist into Lee Sang-yoon’s stomach. It wasn’t a targeted attack. It was just a blow to give as much pain as possible. After grabbing my phone on the ground, I spoke to Lee Sang-yoon who was vomiting. “There are two options. Report to me at the end of each floor or turn yourself in.”
He could still go to the dungeon inside prison, although I wasn’t totally sure about that. "That is all I can give to a criminal.”
I turned around.
"You think that you are different!?” Lee Sang-yoon yelled from behind me, sobbing. “Don't be cocky... You were just lucky... The people I met were just as good as me. If I had only made a few good choices...”
Being below other people. Lee Sang-yoon couldn’t tolerate that. He suffered a bitter taste in the dungeon and lost everything. "You are nothing. If you meet them... Even if you know in advance, there won’t be much difference between you and me. The world is wide. There are so many geniuses that are better than you...”
"I know.” Yes. I knew very well. The sense of inferiority and defeat that he was now feeling. It was something I’d felt since I was a child. Why wasn’t I born like them? Why was I lacking?
So... Life was a type of poker game. The ingredients were: Possessions and Talent. When everyone was born, his or her hand was drawn. It was sadly an area of luck.
Did I think there was no one better than me, just because they didn’t show up right now? I’m sorry, but that wasn’t the case. There were better people than me. But so what? Should I just give up due to what I was born with? Of course, I knew it very well. Even if I covered my face with an iron mask and bluffed, the probability of sweeping the pot was close to zero.
But should I forfeit early?
I had almost given up. Then an opportunity came. It was an opportunity to change the hand I was dealt into something better. I don’t think that I’m the best explorer. I realized there would be someone who would beat the dungeon more efficiently than I could. Maybe even more. I might encounter them on the next floor.
But to me, it was natural. The experience so far was meaningful, and there was still a chance of succeeding. Even if I faced a person who was overwhelmingly stronger, I would bluff with an iron mask like I had done before.
I would do it until my winning percentage changed to 100%. Then, I would sweep away the pot on the table.
After completely breaking Lee Sang-yoon, I came down from the mountain. I headed to a certain spot in the library. I read the books I had borrowed over and over again.
When I woke up from concentrating, there was a text message.
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