It was a bright day.
Jae Woo yawned inside his waiting room.
There was a knock at his door, followed by Jin Cheol’s voice.
As always, Jin Cheol came to give him his helmet.
"Please come in."
Jin Cheol passed him the helmet.
"Phew. Thank you for doing this for me. You could always ask someone else to bring it to me."
"Hoo, hoo. I could, but I'd like to see you from time to time."
Jin Cheol laughed.
There was a simple reason for him bringing the helmet in person.
Jin Cheol expected Jae Woo to become even more famous later down the line. That’s why he wanted to form a personal connection with him while he still had the chance.
Jae Woo smiled as he took the helmet; he knew exactly what Jin Cheol was doing.
'Well, it doesn't hurt me.'
As a gamer, it couldn't hurt to form a connection with one of GBS's producers.
"Did you see the last episode?" Jin Cheol asked.
He was referring to episode 6.
It portrayed Jae Woo and Soo Ah battling trolls at the Ingrit Outpost and completing their mission.
"Yes, I saw it."
"How was it?"
"Due to the increasing difficulty of the dungeons, the Dungeon Conquering Men have begun showing off their true skill. It’s become more fun to watch."
In other words, the recent episode was better than the previous ones.
"Hoo, hoo. The viewership has gone up too."
Jin Cheol laughed.
Dungeon Conquering Man wasn't a huge hit, but it was better than average.
Most importantly, the viewership steadily increased, which was encouraging.
That’s why Jin Cheol’s expression was so bright when he talked about viewership.
Jae Woo nodded his head.
"Let's do our best today too."
Jin Cheol left the waiting room.
A short while later...
Someone else had come looking for him.
His next guest was Park Tae Gyu.
"What brings you here today?" Jae Woo asked.
Before, Park Tae Gyu had come to invite him to his guild.
"I came to say hello, and talk to you while I'm at it."
Tae Gyu smiled brightly.
'I don't really have anything to say to you though...'
Jae Woo didn’t really feel like getting friendly, perhaps because Tae Gyu was Yoon Se Hwa’s partner.
"Is something you’d like to tell me?" Jae Woo asked.
"Ah, yes. I do."
'Just tell me and go.'
"Would you like to join our guild? I was wondering if you've changed your mind..." Tae Gyu asked.
Jae Woo immediately shook his head.
"You're strong, Mr. Oga, but there's only so much you can do by yourself. One day, you'll find yourself trampled underfoot, so why not join the Jairus Guild and see just how far you can go?"
Tae Gyu tried to convince Jae Woo, but he wasn't convinced in the least.
'One person can stand at the top.'
He was proof of this.
In Warlord, he'd single-handedly fought against 1,000 guild members and had come out victorious, gaining the title of Human Dragon.
"I'll just do my own thing," Jae Woo said.
He didn't add 'while taking all of the dungeons for myself.'.
"I won't change my mind, so please stop trying to recruit me."
"Hoo... Then may I ask you something else?" Tae Gyu said.
"I don't have to answer, right?" Jae Woo asked.
"Do you still possess a large quantity of adamantium?" Tae Gyu asked, and Jae Woo widened his eyes.
He hadn't expected that question at all.
'How does he know about the adamantium...?'
Jae Woo looked warily at him, but then remembered the article he'd posted on Arthtory.
'Oh, right. I uploaded a picture of the adamantium there...'
"Why do you ask?"
"Ah. Have you not seen what our guild posted on Arthtory?"
"No, I haven't."
"Our guild just recently completed a large-scale linked quest. The quest reward is this: if you give a Master Miner some ore, then they’ll create some equipment for you," Park Tae Gyu began.
"The better the ore, the better the equipment. Our guild needs a lot of special ore, like the large quantity of adamantium that you showed on Arthtory," Tae Gyu finished, and checked Jae Woo’s response.
'This'll be a pain in the ass.'
Worse case scenario, the Jairus Guild demands that he fork over the adamantium, and he’s forced to go on the run.
"I sold the adamantium already."
Ultimately, Jae Woo was forced to lie. If he still had it, then he'd become a target.
"I see. Then could you please tell me who you sold it to? I've never seen it in the auction house before..."
"I can't tell you that," Jae Woo firmly said.
"It seems like you're misunderstanding something. The Jairus Guild isn't an evil guild. We're not trying to steal the adamantium; we want to buy it at an appropriate price," Tae Gyu said.
'Do you really think this is my first time dealing with huge guilds like yours?'
Jae Woo didn't believe him, but he didn't need to let Tae Gyu know that.
"I see. Not only have I already sold it, but I don't think the buyer wants their personal information passed around, so... I won't say anything more."
Jae Woo closed his mouth in a thin line.
"I understand. If you happen to change your mind, feel free to contact me with my business card."
Jae Woo nodded his head.
"Then I'll get going now."
Once he left, Jae Woo furrowed his brow.
'This... I hope nothing troublesome comes from this.'
* * *
Park Tae Gyu left Jae Woo's waiting room and called his guildmaster, Jairus.
"How did it go?"
"I couldn't change his mind."
After completing the large-scale linked quest, the Jairus Guild had created a list of ore worth giving to the Master Miner.
One of the metals on the list was adamantium, the toughest metal in Arth.
Luckily enough, Oga, the owner of a large quantity of adamantium, and Park Tae Gyu, a member of the Jairus Guild, were part of the same TV program.
Thus, Jairus had ordered Tae Gyu to win Jae Woo over, as well as figure out what became of the adamantium as well.
Clearly, Tae Gyu had failed his mission.
"Is there any progress on the other ores?"
"Our entire guild is looking for them, so I'm sure they'll manage to scrounge some up."
The Jairus Guild sought special ore like adamantium.
But ore as unique as this was extremely rare. Above all, they needed a large quantity of the ore.
Even the Jairus Guild would have trouble procuring the ore.
"Keep trying. They say that little strokes fell great oaks," Jairus said.
"Hoo. I'll try, but... I don't think it'll be easy. Oga is extremely wary of others, and seems to hate guilds as a whole."
"He's pretty well known, so we can't threaten him... Find out what he wants, lay some bait, whatever. Figure something out."
"You know the vice-captain seat is empty, right?"
Jairus had suddenly mentioned the vice-captain position.
A while back, the previous vice-captain had attempted to monopolize the large-scale linked quest’s reward, so he had been driven out of the guild.
Therefore, the Jairus Guild's #2 position was empty right now.
"If you do well, then that position will be yours."
Jairus' offer was tempting.
"You said this to Tool and Gale too, right?"
Tool and Gale were two other players in the Jairus Guild who sought the vice-captain position.
"Of course I did. I had to make it fair."
"I'll try to find a way."
"Alright, good luck."
Tae Gyu hung up and entered his waiting room, ruminating over the matter.
'The vice-captain position...'
When people gather, power follows; with power, money and privilege would follow. Also...
'That money and privilege will come to those in high positions.'
Tae Gyu wanted to become the vice-captain. In order to do so, he had to procure the adamantium no matter what.
'There has to be something I can use...'
Then, he heard something.
He looked for the source of the noise, and eventually came to the door to the stairs. He carefully opened it and...
"Until you break!"
He heard a familiar voice.
'Isn't this Ms. Se Hwa's voice?'
He moved slightly and heard another voice from above.
"Haa. What happened to you?"
There were two women arguing with each other.
It was Soo Ah and Yoon Se Hwa.
Tae Gyu hid himself in the corner and eavesdropped on their conversation.
He came up with a great idea.
* * *
They say you meet your mortal enemy at the worst time and place. Soo Ah and Yoon Se Hwa encountered each other in the middle of an empty corridor.
Soo Ah tried to ignore her and just pass her by, but as always, Yoon Se Hwa wouldn't let it go.
"Hey, aren't you going to say hello?" Yoon Se Hwa said, staring at her.
Soo Ah sighed, her expression seemingly saying, 'Again?'.
"You're sighing? Hey, follow me."
Yoon Se Hwa headed for the stairs; Soo Ah followed her, her eyes glinting.
'Let's make things clear!'
Thereby ending this ill-fated relationship!
"Hey, Jeong Soo Ah!"
Yoon Se Hwa glared at Soo Ah from the middle of the empty stairs.
"You've been acting up lately. You think that you can be disrespectful to me just because you're a little popular lately?" Yoon Se Hwa bullied her.
However, it had absolutely no effect on Soo Ah.
Soo Ah stared right at her and said, "How long are you going to act like this?"
Yoon Se Hwa's expression became downright venomous.
"Until you break!"
"Haa. What happened to you?"
She hadn't been like this when they'd first met.
Yoon Se Hwa had been bright and positive; somebody you could call a 'good' person.
"You took it from me!" she said bitingly.
"What exactly did I take from you?'
"If not for you, then it would've been my spot! That popularity would've been mine!"
There was a more fundamental reason for her bullying: an inferiority complex.
She wanted to bring Soo Ah, someone superior to her, down to her level!
Envy, jealousy, an inferiority complex, etc. If she admitted to those, then she would be admitting that Soo Ah was better than her.
Therefore, she stubbornly held on to the idea that Soo Ah had stolen her spot.
"That again? You left Triple Lower of your own accord. I didn't take your spot!" Soo Ah said.
She was being completely honest.
However, honesty wouldn't work on someone with such an intense inferiority complex.
"Hmph. Who are you kidding, you thief!" Yoon Se Hwa said, her voice riddled with thorns.
Soo Ah couldn't help but sigh.
"You're... jealous of me, aren't you?" Soo Ah said after calming herself down.
"You're just being jealous, Unni."
"N-No I'm not!" Yoon Se Hwa yelled immediately.
She was like a patient that flinched when the doctor touched an injured area.
Se Hwa’s reaction confirmed it for her.
"I-I'm not jealous of someone like you! I'm not!"
"Hoo," she sighed once more.
'What are you supposed to say to someone so wrapped in jealousy? Sorry? It's my fault? I'm not better than you?'
"Let's stop this."
In the end, this was all she could come up with.
"Stop what!?" Yoon Se Hwa shouted.
Soo Ah ignored her and left.
"You bitch! You thieving cat!" Yoon Se Hwa yelled emptily.
Once Soo Ah was completely gone, Yoon Se Hwa plopped onto the stairs.
Fury, the feeling of failure, jealousy, disappointment, etc. all came at her at once.
'I'm not damaged goods!'
She clasped her hands at her chest as if in prayer, and inwardly yelled in a desperate attempt of retaliation.
At that moment...
Park Tae Gyu approached her.
"Are you alright?"
Tae Gyu placed his hand on her shoulder, completely shocking her.
"W-Why are you here!?"
"Are you alright?" Tae Gyu asked once more.
"Ah, I-I'm alright."
Yoon Se Hwa forced herself to stand up and tried to leave.
"I happened to hear your conversation," Tae Gyu said.
"Hoo. Please ignore it..."
"Don't you want to win?" Tae Gyu interrupted her.
"Won't you feel better if you beat her in something?"
Tae Gyu smiled lightly with that handsome face of his.
"It's none of your concern."
Yoon Se Hwa didn't want any help. This was her problem and hers alone.
"Nothing will change if you do nothing."
"What do you know..."
Yoon Se Hwa glared at him viciously.
"I don't know what it feels like. However... I believe we can use each other."
Tae Gyu grinned.
"Use each other?"
"Yes. I'll help you beat Soo Ah and in return, you help me with my goal. You scratch my back, I scratch yours."
"What will you do? Will you accept? Or will you continue to be as you are, continuously acting like a wailing, frightened dog?"
Tae Gyu extended his hand.
Ultimately, Yoon Se Hwa, who had stared blankly at him, took his hand.Previous Chapter Next Chapter