"Did you know, Mr. Seong Gook?" Kang Seol Hee asked.
"One of our teams unfortunately failed their mission."
"Yes, it's true. Which team do you think it was?" Seol Hee asked.
Seong Gook didn't know which team had failed, so he stared at the team who'd failed last time, Team Jake and Hye Yeon.
"You failed again?"
Jake feverishly shook his hands.
"He's right. We didn't fail today!" Hye Yeon, who was beside him, said.
"Hmm. Then who?"
Seong Gook looked over the other teams. There was someone trying to avoid his gaze.
Seong Gook smirked.
"It's not Team Jake and Hye Yeon. Now, everyone please look at the screen. The failing team is..."
The team that appeared on the screen was...
"Team Park Bae Shik and Lisa!" Seol Hee loudly revealed.
"Aah, Mr. Bae Shik," Jeon Seong Gook called disappointingly.
"Ahem. It just happened."
"Aah, you couldn't forget the taste of the salty sikhye, could you?"
Seong Gook smiled impishly.
Bae Shik had failed his mission during Chuseok weekend, and was forced to drink a salty sikhye as punishment; he'd promptly spat it out soon after.
That's what Seong Gook was referring to.
"If I have to drink it again, then I'm spitting it at you," Bae Shik said.
"Then let's move on to Team Bae Shik and Lisa's punishment."
As soon as Seol Hee finished speaking, the staff prepared a box filled with punishment cards.
The female rapper, Lisa, picked out one of the punishment cards.
"Hoh, Team Bae Shik and Lisa's punishment is... Drinking extreme juice!" Seong Gook stated.
"Extreme juice? What is that?" Bae Shik asked, his eyes filled with suspicion.
"It's a nutritious beverage made by our writers using all sorts of healthy ingredients, but..."
Seol Hee smiled and added, "I can't say it tastes good."
She clapped her hands, and the staff brought over two cups of extreme juice.
Jae Woo scowled upon seeing the extreme juice. Soo Ah, who sat beside him, had a similar reaction to it.
"Y-You want me to drink this?"
Bae Shik trembled.
Not only was it a strange combination of brown and green, but it seemed thick and watery at the same time; a truly bizarre texture. It stunk too.
"Isn't this poop?"
Lisa looked like she wanted to cry.
"It's not. It's a nutritional drink made of all sorts of healthy ingredients," Seol Hee firmly said.
"And if you spit it out halfway, you need to drink another one," Seong Gook grinned and said.
"Lisa, let's decide who drinks this with rock-paper-scissors. How about it?"
"One person drinks both?"
"Yeah. One of us has to live after all."
"You got it. Is that ok with you?"
Lisa, who'd agreed with Bae Shik's proposal, stared at Seong Gook.
Seong Gook checked with Jin Cheol; he ok'd it.
"That's fine. Then..."
Bae Shik and Lisa played rock-paper-scissors to decide their fate.
The winner was...
"The one who makes the offer always seems to lose stuff like this."
Soo Ah clicked her tongue.
"Seems like it."
Jae Woo nodded his head in agreement.
Park Bae Shik was tearing his hair out, while Lisa was jumping around, shouting 'I lived!'.
"Now, Mr. Bae Shik. Please take your punishment," Seol Hee said, her expression firm.
Seong Gook gave him the extreme juice.
Bae Shik pinched his nose and drank it all down.
Once he drank the juice, his face seemed to contort like a wrinkled newspaper.
"Aah, are you going to spit it out again?"
Seong Gook raised his voice.
"You have to drink another one if you do," Seol Hee quickly said.
Ultimately, Bae Shik swallowed it all down.
"Bleh! Please give me some water!"
He caught his breath and sought water.
Seong Gook grinned and passed him the second drink.
"Drink it down in one shot like a man."
In the end, Bae Shik finished off the other drink as well.
With his punishment done with, Bae Shik plopped into his seat. Lisa patted his back, consoling him.
"How did it taste?" Seong Gook asked.
"I-It tasted like sewage water..."
His body shook as if recalling the taste of the extreme juice.
"Now, please give Mr. Bae Shik a round of applause for getting through the punishment."
Clap, clap, clap.
The sound of applause resounded throughout the studio, though it didn't make Bae Shik feel any better.
After that, Seong Gook chatted with each of the contestants; once he was finished, their total reward showed up on the screen.
'10 million won ($10,000 USD)!'
The only teams that had completed all of their missions were Team Oga and Soo Ah, and Team Tae Gyu and Se Hwa. Their total reward thus far was 10 million won.
When he saw the reward, Jae Woo couldn't help but smile.
"Mr. Seong Gook."
"Yes, Ms. Seol Hee?"
"Do you know what the level 5 dungeon is?"
"Hoo, hoo. Who do you think I am? Of course I do."
"What is it then?"
"It's the Tarnatose Prison!" Seong Gook confidently said.
"Exactly. It's the renowned Tarnatose Prison!"
Seol Hee raised her voice.
"It's where Bart, who is one of the Numbers and is considered the most talented high school gamer, made history," Seong Gook said.
"Indeed. Team Oga and Soo Ah, and Team Tae Gyu and Se Hwa will take on this dungeon."
"Hoo, hoo. I'm really looking forward to it," Seong Gook chimed in.
"What kind of missions will our Dungeon Conquering Men/Girls participate in? Will they have to beat Mr. Bart's time?" Seol Hee said with both excitement and anxiety.
"Hoo, hoo. How will it turn out?" Seong Gook replied.
"Please look forward to it. It'll be even better next week!"
"I hope you all tune in next week too!"
Seol Hee and Seong Gook waved with bright expressions.
That was the end of the shoot.
Jae Woo slightly extended his hand.
Jae Woo and Soo Ah softly shook hands just for the hell of it.
Then, Yoon Se Hwa approached them with Tae Gyu close behind.
"I have something to say," Se Hwa said.
She glanced at Jae Woo too.
"All four of us."
* * *
Jae Woo, Soo Ah, Tae Gyu, and Se Hwa entered a vacant waiting room.
Though there were chairs and a table available, they leaned against opposite walls and stared at each other.
A strange silence ensued.
"What did you want to say?" Soo Ah asked first.
Yoon Se Hwa briefly bit her lip, made up her mind, and said, "I hate you."
Soo Ah furrowed her brow. 'Was she going to go on about that again?'
"You hate me too, right?" she continued.
"I don't... like you," Soo Ah said, staring directly at her.
"So let's have a match."
Soo Ah couldn't understand what she was alluding to. 'Why is she being like this?'.
"Let's have a match," Yoon Se Hwa said, glaring at her.
"Explain it so she can understand."
Jae Woo, who was listening cross-armed, intervened. Then, Tae Gyu raised his hand.
"Ah, may I explain?"
"Go ahead," Soo Ah said.
"It's simple. We'll make a bet, and whoever loses will have to pay the price."
"A bet?" Jae Woo asked.
"We have just the thing: the Tarnatose Prison."
"So you want to challenge us to an escape game," Jae Woo said.
"What is an escape game?" Soo Ah asked.
"An escape game is..."
Jae Woo gave her a detailed explanation of what an escape game was.
The more time passed, the stronger the Tarnatose Prison's prison guards became.
An escape game was a sort of 'game within a game' in which the players would make use of this feature and compete against each other.
In other words, players would deliberately wait and allow the prison guards to become stronger, and then try to beat each others' times.
Let's say an A is waiting for 40 minutes and escaping in 30 minutes. Then a B was waiting for 40 minutes and escaping in 29 minutes.
B would have a higher score, as they had escaped quicker.
Dreamgate, seeing how much players were enjoying this, created an actual record board.
They created a device at the entrance, which would quickly pass the time, and a ranking board at the exit, which would record how much time had passed, as well as how long it took to clear.
"They want to decide the winner using this escape game," Soo Ah said.
"Exactly. And the winners get a juicy reward from the losers."
Tae Gyu nodded his head.
"Are you going to do it or not?"
Se Hwa looked at her provokingly.
"Why do I need to have a match with you in the first place?"
"If you win, then I won't stir up trouble ever again," Se Hwa tempted.
However, Soo Ah wasn't convinced in the least.
"Not really interested. After Dungeon Conquering Man is over, we won't really meet much anyway."
"Who knows, it's a small world."
'So you'll eventually see me again!'.
"Are you so sure? I don't think you'll last that long," Soo Ah said icily.
'It doesn't matter; you won't make it very far anyway!'
It quickly turned into an emotional battle. Jae Woo grabbed Soo Ah's shoulder.
"Calm down. Let's hear what they have to say, ok?"
Jae Woo stared at Yoon Se Hwa and asked, "If you win, what will Soo Ah have to do for you?"
"It's simple. She gets on her knees and says 'I was wrong' in front of me."
"That sounds like something you should be doing for her, not the other way around."
After all, Soo Ah was the victim here!
"What did you say!?"
Yoon Se Hwa stared at him venomously as if she'd kill him.
Jae Woo didn't back down and stared directly at her. It was like there were sparks between them.
At that moment, Park Tae Gyu intervened.
"I have a requirement too."
"We haven't agreed yet," Jae Woo said firmly.
However, Tae Gyu wouldn't stop.
"If we win, then you work for the Jairus Guild for a year. Ah, you'll have to share all of the information on the adamantium too, as it's for the guild!"
In other words, if he won, then the Jairus Guild would work him like a dog.
Normally, people wouldn't agree to such a bet when the terms were so outrageous.
But he'd made the offer anyway, which meant...
'He starts off strong, and then slowly lowers it as if he's doing me a favor. There's no reason to play his game.'
Jae Woo, who'd finished thinking, replied, "Then if we win, then I'll work you like a dog. You'll have to do your best and commit yourself to me."
'Fine, I'll work you like a dog!'
Tae Gyu momentarily recoiled.
He'd expected Jae Woo to say something along the lines of 'The terms are outrageous', but he'd accepted the terms straight away.
At that moment...
It seemed like things were getting out of hand, so Soo Ah grabbed Jae Woo's collar.
"Ah, that's only if... we accept the match."
Jae Woo grinned.
"Let's not do it. I don't want you to get caught up in my business."
"Ah, that's not what this is about. You probably got caught up in my business. Isn't that right, Mr. Park Tae Gyu?"
Jae Woo was sure that Tae Gyu had constructed this plan.
There was no way someone like Yoon Se Hwa could've come up with a plan that made use of the escape game.
"We just came to an understanding."
Tae Gyu smiled.
"Soo Ah and I have some things to talk about, so could you please give us some space?" Jae Woo asked.
Tae Gyu and Yoon Se Hwa left the waiting room.
"Oppa, you can't accept their offer," Soo Ah firmly said.
On the other hand, Jae Woo wanted to accept the bet.
He was confident that he could win, and he wanted to show them the bitter taste of defeat too.
Not to mention...!
Jae Woo had seen how draining this relationship was on Soo Ah, so he wanted to use this opportunity to unburden her.
"Don't you want to cut her out of your life?"
"I-I do, but..."
Her eyes quivered.
Jae Woo grabbed her hands and said, "Then let's do it."Previous Chapter Next Chapter