Chapter 167. Change (1)


It wasn’t a coincidental meeting as I ran here as soon as I saw an elevator flying up and heard a girl’s scream.
Rachel seemed to be in danger, so I had to use three of my precious bullets, but I decided not to regret it too much since a Yeti’s horn was a good material.
In any case, after our reunion, Rachel led me to her igloo.

“Come in, it’s surprisingly warm.”

“Thanks.”

“Um… no, nevermind.”

It seemed she had many questions to ask. However, she didn’t dig any further, and I entered the igloo without saying much.
Inside, there were two other people who seemed to be in poor conditions.

“…What happened to them?”

“They suddenly fainted.”

“Suddenly?”

Rachel nodded.

“Yes, they touched a snowmobile and suddenly—”

“Snowmobile?!”

I interrupted Rachel. There was only one thing a snowmobile could be referring to.

“Y-Yes, a snowmobile…”

“Where?”

“…Um, you shouldn’t touch it. You’ll become like them if you do. I think it’s a trap.”

Rachel’s expression darkened. I, of course, knew about the fainting. If they touched a dwarven artifact bare-handed, they should be passed out for about two days.

“Don’t worry, I know how to handle it.”

I planned to use the Book of Truth if I really couldn’t find one on my own, but it seemed I could reserve the Book of Truth for finding the steles.

“Eh? How? Where?”

“Um, in the book the 2nd-floor administrator is reading… well, I’ll explain later. For now…”

Before heading out to find the dwarven artifact, I took out the Jungle Gorilla’s leather from my inventory.

“Here. This should keep them warm.”

“Ah, thank you!”

Rachel put the leather over her guild members as soon as she received it. They looked a bit like corpses in a morgue, but they looked warm.

“Judging by the color of their faces, they should be waking up soon.”

“…That’s what I’m hoping.”

I smiled reassuringly. Touching the snowmobile without preparation caused one to faint for at least a day, but it wasn’t life-threatening whatsoever.

“Then let’s go find the snowmobile. Do you remember where it is?”

Rachel still looked worried but nodded anyway.

“…Yes, I can ask my elementals for direction.”

**


“Mm….”

I arrived in front of the snowmobile with Rachel. Buried under the blizzard, only a vague outline of it remained. I wanted to claim it for myself immediately, but now that I was here… there wasn’t much I could do.

In truth, this hidden piece was rather easy to find. The 2nd floor was only as big as Daegu Metropolitan City. Not only were there three of them on the 2nd floor, but they were also extremely noticeable.

However, this hidden piece had a barrier surrounding it. Touching it thoughtlessly immediately caused one to faint.
Although Kim Suho could cut the barrier apart with his Sword Saint Gift, I had nothing of the sort.

“Ah, I want to see Suho.”

“…Suho? You mean, Kim Suho?”

Rachel tilted her head at my murmuring.

“Ah, yes. It’s been three years since I last saw him.”

In truth, I did see him from the distance a few times.
I asked Yoo Yeonha to gift him medicine, even going as far as tricking him into thinking they were vitamins since Kim Suho didn’t like getting stronger through medicine.
Although the sender of the gifts was always anonymous, he probably knew it was me who sent them.

“Ah, maybe…”

After mulling over it for a while, I came up with an idea.
I immediately turned on my smartwatch.

[Device Link]

My laptop’s newest function, ‘Device Link’.
Broadly speaking, this dwarven artifact was an equipment.

[Search Nearby Device]

I swallowed hard and clicked ‘search’.

[Searching for devices within 300 meters…]
[Search complete.]
[1. Dwarven Supercar]
[This device has no owner. Would you like to set its owner to Kim Hajin and link to it?]

I was only half-sure that this would work, but thankfully it did.
I clicked ‘yes’.

[Setting its owner and linking to it requires 200SP.]
[Would you like to continue?]

200SP. It wasn’t cheap by any means, but this artifact was something I could ride until the 7th floor. It was certainly worth its cost.
As such, I clicked ‘yes’ once again.

Woong—

In an instant, golden light shot up from the snowmobile. This blinding light spread warmth in all directions and melted the snow and ice nearby.
Just like that, the supercar revealed itself.
It had a black body engraved with golden symbols and was big enough to seat three to four people. It operated without wheels and by resonating with mana, truly making it a mystical dwarven artifact.

[With the transfer of ownership, Dwarven Security Barrier has been deactivated.]

Now the barrier was also gone. I hopped on the snowmobile which seemed to have a heating function as the seat was warm.

“Ah, be care… eh? Are you okay?”

“Yes, this is part of my Gift.”

I gave a brief explanation to Rachel who looked at me with a shocked expression.

“Get on, Rachel-ssi. I’ll drive you to the igloo.”

“Um… can I ride it too?”

“Of course. You won’t get hurt, so don’t worry.”

Rachel blinked a few times, then got up behind me.

“Let’s go.”

Wiing—
Driving the dwarven supercar wasn’t too different from driving a normal snowmobile. Using the path we took to get here, we went back to the igloo. The 30-minute walk was reduced to 3 minutes.

“…Oh, um, I’m sorry about this.”

After dropping Rachel off at the igloo, I scratched my neck feeling sorry.
Rachel was the one who found this artifact, but I was taking it for myself.
Rachel smiled brightly.

“You don’t need to feel sorry at all. I wouldn’t have been able to use it anyways.”

“But still… Ah.”

I walked into the igloo and took out a [Lv.1 Wooden Storage Box].

“I’ll give you this.”

“…?”

Rachel looked back and forth between me and the storage box.

“It’s a storage box. I made it in the jungle. I put an ice-attribute setting on it, so it should function as an icebox too.”

I opened the storage box.

“There’s food inside. It’s marinated deer meat. You can just pan-fry it.”

“Food?”

Rachel’s eyes shone as she looked inside the storage box.
Sniff, sniff. She smelled the sauce used to marinate the meat.

“Ah… thank you so much, Hajin-ssi.”

Then, she expressed her sincere, heartfelt gratitude. I answered with a small smile.
Afterward, Rachel sat down on the floor.

“I’m fine, so you can go. Your comrades must be waiting for you…”

Growl—
Rachel’s belly growled. Her face flushed red and she quickly took out a frying pan and a burner.
Tak, tak.
She turned the burner on and put the frying pan on it.

“Um, would you like to join me…?”

“No, I’m fine. I already ate.”

Rachel looked at me fixedly, then she nodded and placed three small pieces of deer meat on the frying pan.

“…You should cook more. You must be starving.”

“I have more guild members than just these two. I need to save some for them.”

“Mm, I see, then I’ll take my leave. You can send a friend request later. My ID is…”

I paused.
My ID was Extra7.

“…Extra7, but if anyone asks, don’t tell them my ID.”

“Got it.”

Rachel didn’t ask for a reason and simply agreed.

“…Wait, Extra7?!”

Then, as though she suddenly remembered something, her eyes shot open.

“The one who made 20000TP is…”

“Yes, that’s me.”

“Ah… right… then that equipment… with 20000TP…”

She murmured to herself. It seemed she came to some sort of a conclusion. I grinned as I left the igloo.
The blizzard was still blowing as fiercely as ever. I put on my hood again and jumped on the dwarven supercar.

“For now…”

Let’s go to Boss.
I took out a GPS receiver, which I bought from the Player Shop before separating from the others.
Although it cost 700TP, I considered it a good purchase as it could be used indefinitely.

[No.1 GPS – Northeast, 680m]

Boss’ GPS wasn’t too far away.
I stepped on the accelerator, and the dwarven supercar charged through the snow. Feeling the refreshing air provided by the speed of the supercar, I crossed 680 meters in exactly 20 seconds.

—In any case…

As soon as I stopped the dwarven supercar, I heard Boss’ voice.
I turned northeast from where I was standing.
Thousand-Mile Eyes pierced through the curtain of snow hindering my vision.

—You have seven lives in this Tower.

I could see Boss’ figure standing in the snow.
However, she wasn’t alone but surrounded by four to five people.

—So I’m sure dying once won’t be a big deal.

—Kahaha!

Boss’ warning was only met with sneers and ridicule.

—What, you’re going to kill us? Do you think we’ll just stand here and do nothing?

—Why don’t you take off that bear head? Or do you want us to do it for you?

She had run into thugs. I quickly raised my Desert Eagle.
However, I had no chance to intervene.

Chwaak—

The shadow underneath Boss shot up. Black magic power formed the shape of a blade and pierced the neck of one of the more talkative men.

—Kuk!
—W-What!?
—F-Fuck!
—H-Hey, just kill her!

The thugs quickly jumped back and unleashed their magic power, but Boss’ application of magic power was too extraordinary.
After easily neutralized the thugs’ magic power blasts and even reversing the spell used by the magician, she counterattacked with her shadow blade, tearing their limbs apart.

—Kuaaak!
—Kuak.

Screams of despair and pain and the sound of bones breaking and flesh being torn apart rang out. A shadow danced above a white field of snow, with blood and internal organs of humans flying in all directions.
The situation came to an end in just a minute.

“…Haa.”

Silence returned to the snowfield.
Amidst severed body parts, Boss let out a tired sigh.
There was a single drop of blood on her white skin, which looked especially cold.

“…Boss.”

I called out. At that moment, her shoulders slightly flinched. Under the fiercely blowing blizzard, Boss turned around. Her eyes were slightly flickering as she stared at me.
However, she soon returned to her usual self and muttered.

“You’re back.”

“…Yes, it was quite a spectacle.”

I joked. However, Boss didn’t react or say anything in response and simply walked past me.
Tak, tak.
Walking forward in the white snowfield, she left behind a trail of blood. Her footsteps were elegant and powerful but lonesome.
I followed her silently.
…Whish.
The wind blew coldly.
I tried my best to ignore the bear head helmet she was wearing.

**


“…Chameleon Troupe?”

On the other hand, Yoo Yeonha was in the outside world, having a video call with Yoo Jinhyuk.

—Yeah.

Yoo Jinhyuk finally revealed a new piece of information to Yoo Yeonha. She decided not to ask whether he had been hiding it or had just found out.

—By the way, are you not entering the Tower?

“It’s hard for me to find the time. It apparently takes a month to finish the tutorial… I’m sure you don’t need me to explain further.”

Past the video call screen, Yoo Yeonha was looking at news regarding the Tower of Wish being reported.
People returned from the Tower after clearing the tutorial by buying some sort of a ‘ticket’ and those who died without being able to clear the tutorial. News regarding them was causing a stir.

—Mm, yeah, that makes sense.

“Anyways, please continue with what you were saying.”

With Yoo Yeonha asking, Yoo Jinhyuk continued.

—Right, so I think this Chameleon Troupe is the group behind the Kwang-Oh Incident orchestrated by Chae Joochul.

Yoo Yeonha strained her ears with a stiff expression.
The assassin hired by Chae Joochul and commanded by Yoo Jinwoong.
Yoo Jinhyuk was currently telling her the identity of this assassin.

—The problem is whether this Chameleon Troupe is the same as the current one.

Yoo Yeonha stared at Yoo Jinhyuk silently. Her eyes were demanding an explanation.
Before talking about this any further, Yoo Jinhyuk first surveyed his surroundings. There was only a single fly sitting on his window.

—Jesus, how can a fly be that big? Hey, hey, chase that thing out.

“You don’t have to worry about a fly.”

—It’s just too big. What the heck? Did it come back?

“Geez, just ignore it. You’re in North Hamgyeong Province. No one knows about that place anyways.”

—…Oh, it’s gone. Okay, I won’t say it again, so listen carefully.

After chasing the fly away, Yoo Jinhyuk let out a dry cough and began to talk about the Chameleon Troupe.
A mysterious group that appeared 30~50 years ago.
An unknown goal, unknown members.
Using the traces they left behind, he could only guess that they were a crime syndicate with at least 10 powerful members.

—…But you see, back in the day when I was hot stuff, Chameleon Troupe’s leader died.

“Eh? Died?”

—Yeah. I think it was Chae Joochul who killed him, but I’m not exactly sure. Now, look at the terror incidents that have been happening in Pandemonium.

Yoo Jinhyuk put up data regarding terror incidents in Pandemonium.
Although terror incidents weren’t rare in Pandemonium, what made the ones shown on the screen unique was the ‘black lotus’ symbol.

—The Chameleon Troupe must have picked a new leader and resumed their activities.

“Hmm… so who’s their new leader?”

—I don’t know. But! This is where Kim Hajin you love comes in.

“L-Love? We’re just allies—”

—Anyways, it was a young girl who dropped Kim Hajin off at an orphanage.

Yoo Jinhyuk had seen this with his Gift.

—I’m almost one hundred percent positive that this girl is a member of the Chameleon Troupe. In other words, Kim Hajin will be looking for the Chameleon Troupe in the future.

Yoo Yeonha nodded. She agreed with what he was saying.

“If things are as you say… it’s really complicated.”

Yoo Yeonha drew a map in her head.

[Chae Joochul = A]
[The Chameleon Troupe’s previous Boss who carried out the Kwang-Oh Incident = B (now deceased)]
[Working with B, the young girl who brought Kim Hajin to an orphanage = C]
[C is surmised to be a member of the current Chameleon Troupe]

A total of four main characters: A, B, C, and Kim Hajin.

“It’s too complicated….”

—It is. Kim Hajin is only a small fish compared to these giants. That’s why it looks and feels so dramatic.

“Dramatic? How?”

—…Think about it.

Yoo Jinhyuk suddenly put on a weird face and shouted.

—Chae Joochul! The child you tried to kill has come back alive!

“…What.”

However, Yoo Yeonha only frowned.

—Chae Joochul will end up being killed by a main character he wasn’t even aware of. An ‘extra’ if you will.

“….”

Yoo Yeonha crossed her arms without replying to Yoo Jinhyuk’s nonsense.
She then thought of Chae Joochul.

Chae Joochul the Immortal.
The owner of Daehyun and an undoubtable giant of Korea.
She had the feeling that it wouldn’t be long until she would face off against this giant. A part of the reason was the increased pressure from Chae Joochul as Essence of the Strait continued to grow.

—But Chae Joochul’s granddaughter is your friend and subordinate.

“…She’s my friend only.”

—But be careful. Chae Joochul isn’t someone who would care about his granddaughter.

Yoo Yeonha nodded.
Even if Chae Nayun was her friend and a Hero of Essence of the Strait— if a day came where she had to swing a blade against Chae Joochul, if a day came where she had to fight him head-on…
She would never hesitate.

**


Same time, Chameleon Troupe’s hideout.
In a room called [Droon’s Playroom], which Kim Hajin made with special care…

“…What an interesting story~”

Droon stretched big. In his eyes, the conversation Yoo Yeonha and Yoo Jinhyuk had was being replayed.

“Is my mission over now?”

In the past, Boss and Jain tried to employ several information guilds to look into Kim Hajin’s past. However, they had failed every time. Droon, who was investigating Kim Hajin’s past independently, made an unexpected harvest.
Well, calling it a ‘harvest’ was a bit misleading.
It was the only result he obtained from Mimyo’s 133-day stakeout.

“Should I tell them…?”

Droon pondered.
Mimyo, who was disguised as a fly, brought back an interesting conversation.
Regardless of whether it was true or false, things were sure to become touchy once either side found out.

“Nah.”

After mulling over it for a long time, Droon shook his head.

“Everything they talked about were ‘speculations’. Telling Boss or Hyung about it will only cause problems.”

Droon didn’t want Boss and Kim Hajin to fight yet.

“Hajin Hyung made this playroom for me, and Boss took me in. Yep, that’s right.”

Droon grinned and came to a decision on his own.

“…But if everything is true.”

But he couldn’t help but think of this possibility.
If everything Yoo Jinhyuk said were true.
‘The young girl who dropped a baby off at an orphanage’ — If Hajin Hyung really was this baby and Boss was this young girl…
Then Boss killed Hajin Hyung’s parents?

“Yikes, how scary.”

Trembling at just the thought of this brutal truth, Droon quickly hid under his blanket.

Previous Chapter Next Chapter

FudgeNouget's Thoughts

Equipment Link changed to Device Link