After talking to Yoo Yeonha, I came back to my room alone. I could hear the kids whispering inside the tent in the living room.
—Did someone just come in?
—Nn~ I don’t know~ ah, maybe it’s a ghost?!
I walked past the tent and entered my room.
With a deep sigh, I lay down in my bed.
Today, Yoo Yeonha told me something I didn’t know. There were some speculations mixed into what she said, and although I had no way of knowing whether they were true or false, I still had mixed feelings about it.
—Chameleon Troupe? What’s that?
When I heard her asking me about the Chameleon Troupe, that’s what I said. Although I was trembling on the inside, I acted as calmly as I could on the outside.
—You probably haven’t heard of them. They’re hidden deep in the shadows. A group of some of the strongest people on Earth. In my opinion, I think their strength rivals that of Vast Expanse.
Yoo Yeonha replied seriously.
I stood still, looking at her blankly.
She softly continued, looking at me.
—I… I think they’re the ones who killed your…
She sentence cut off in the middle. However, I understood what she meant.
Chundong’s past I didn’t know about. I blanked out as though I was hit with a hammer.
—…Are, are you sure?
—I’m almost certain. These two are the people predicted to be your parents.
Yoo Yeonha took out a few documents and handed them over.
Kim Yoohon. Shin Yiyeon.
Two unknown names and faces were written on the documents.
—They’re predicted to have passed away on the day of the Kwang-Oh Evacuation Shelter Incident. This is a portrait…
This time, she gave me a portrait.
—of the person who left you at your orphanage. Only half of her face is shown and it’s from 20 years ago, so I doubt it helps much.
Lying on my bed, I took out the portrait and looked at it again.
The portrait depicted a young girl who was cute and pretty but had somewhat of a dangerous aura.
With half of her face covered and it being 20 years ago, it would be hard to determine who she was now.
However, I felt like I knew who it was. In fact, I was almost certain.
It was ‘Boss’ when she was young.
“What a shitty remake…”
Frankly speaking, none of these had anything to do with me. Chundong’s past was Chundong’s past, and I was Kim Hajin.
However, I was still concerned somewhere in the corner of my heart.
If Chundong knew about this… what would he think? Rather, what would he have thought?
Of course, that was something impossible for me to predict.
Chundong was gone. There was nothing left of him anywhere in this world.
A life that disappeared because of me.
Rather, a life that ‘became’ me.
“It looks like you weren’t an extra after all.”
Yoo Yeonha returned home alone. Her large mansion felt especially empty today.
She knew they were in a guild conference, but she called out to them anyways. She wanted to see her scary mother and overly attached father. She knew that they’d be happy if she suddenly hugged them.
However, she was currently alone, at a moment when she needed her family the most.
Yoo Yeonha trudged to her room and sat down on her work chair as usual. She picked up her pen and began to look over contracts as usual. She did some calculations as usual, thought about things as usual, and was troubled by things as usual.
Then suddenly, an unbearable self-hatred rose up within her.
She clenched her teeth.
‘I have to endure it. I have to get stronger. I have to get colder. I have to harden my heart. Self-contradiction and selfishness, concealing the truth and lies. I have to become shameless for my family, for my guild, and for my dream.’
Despite what she constantly told herself, she couldn’t stop herself from being bothered by deep-seated self-hatred.
The way she left out her father and Chae Joochul from the story.
The way she was smiling and feeling relieved that Kim Hajin didn’t ask further questions.
The way she was happy that Kim Hajin’s anger wasn’t directed at her.
She couldn’t help but be disgusted by her own unsightliness.
She felt her stomach churn. She threw the documents to the side and ran to the bathroom. Putting her mouth over the toilet, she cleared her stomach. Seeing the dirty filth that came out of her mouth, she threw up once again. This cycle continued until yellow stomach fluid came out of her mouth.
After an unknown amount of time, around the time her vomiting was changing into coughing up blood…
The smartwatch on her wrist rang.
After glancing at the name of the caller, Yoo Yeonha closed her eyes and took a small breath. She spat out the blood and saliva in her mouth, washed her hands and face, then shook off the bad feeling in her mouth by brushing her teeth. She then wiped herself off with a towel. The caller had already hung up.
Soon, her secretary called her again.
This time, she quickly picked up.
“Yes, what is it, Sechan-ssi?”
Her voice was different than any other time.
—Miss, the government returned the offer we made.
Yoo Yeonha’s eyebrows twitched. However, she maintained her composure and asked.
“What did they want?”
Chwaaa— She turned on the faucet and began to wash her hands again. Her mysophobia and obsessive-compulsive disorder had gotten worse recently.
—Environmental concern… is the reason they gave, but that’s obviously false. They’re not willing to negotiate with us. It seems Chae Joochul bribed or threatened them.
It was Chae Joochul again.
Looking at her hands, she thought about what Kim Hajin once said to her, ‘if your hands are already dirty, use it however you want…’
—What should we do?
Her secretary cut off her self-deprecating thought.
“…There’s nothing we can do against someone who doesn’t want anything.”
Yoo Yeonha replied with a smile. Although she was bitter on the inside, she decided to give up on it cleanly.
—…Understood. Also, we captured a spy who was trying to make a copy of our monster database. Unfortunately, some information has already been leaked. That said, they weren’t anything too expensive…
This time, Yoo Yeonha’s composure was greatly shaken.
Today seemed to be the day when all bad things came at once.
“Another spy? What do you think, Sechan-ssi? What should we do?”
“Should we cut off one of his arms?”
Yoo Yeonha left the bathroom and sat down on her office chair once again.
“Regrowing a severed arm isn’t too difficult nowadays. There’s that potion we developed too.”
She turned her laptop on. Her secretary had already sent the detailed report to her email.
The name and face of the traitor was shown on the screen.
—…Just leave it to me.
“What will you do? Are you going to cut off his limbs and throw him in a Dungeon?”
Yoo Yeonha already lost count of how many times something like this has happened.
It wasn’t something that could be solved with lawful means like a lawsuit. Her opponents always covered up their crimes with unlawful methods. Chae Joochul had almost always played a part in it, and even when he didn’t, other large corporations had bribed officials to go against her.
“You should know this too, Sechan-ssi.”
Over the past four years, Yoo Yeonha experienced and learned many things.
“I, Yoo Yeonha…”
She experienced her first betrayal four years ago. At the time, she thought it would be her last one. However, there were many more attempts afterwards. There was even an attempt to overthrow her that almost succeeded.
As far as she was concerned, the reason these things happened was because she was too soft. If she had cut off the heads of her traitors, others would have been warier of doing so.
“Can no longer forgive such a thing.”
With that, Yoo Yeonha hung up the call.
There was only one principle left in her.
Kill or be killed.
She immediately gave a command to the Falling Blossom guild.
A reply came back immediately.
Yoo Yeonha stared at the message…
Thud. Then slammed her head on her desk.
She let out a deep sigh and pondered.
‘Now is a rough time, both in my personal life and professional life. I’m in the middle of a storm, but a storm can’t last forever. It will eventually go away, and the sky will become clear.
Remember it, be patient, and endure it. Eventually, an opportunity for victory will come.’
“…I’m so sleepy.”
Yoo Yeonha got up in a daze and walked over to her bedroom. She could see her beloved bed. She staggered towards it and fell down.
The moment she laid her body on the soft mattress, she felt like she was melting.
A magical bed that resolved stress and exhaustion. Never in her life would she have thought that a piece of furniture would console her, but she was extremely grateful for it.
Yoo Yeonha stayed still for a moment. Sniff, sniff. Then, she sniffed the mattress.
“…Why doesn’t the smell of smoke go away?”
She had washed the mattress several times. However, her sharp nose was still able to smell the faint scent that remained. Calling it Kim Hajin’s smell… was a bit weird, so she called it the smell of cigarettes.
Yoo Yeonha rolled over to the part of the bed that smelled the least, then curled her body like a cooked shrimp.
Although the faint scent still remained, she slowly fell asleep inside it.
Prestige’s final control tower collapsed.
Essence of the Strait, Desolate Moon, Frost Sanctuary.
A total of 27 Players, including the above three guilds and three other ‘Rankers’, participated in the conquest.
The result was a success. The western control tower was the biggest of the four cardinal towers, but the group had not suffered a single casualty.
After finishing their joint attack, Essence of the Strait’s tower subjugation team returned to their base following a brief item transaction with the other two guilds.
When they arrived at their hideout, they found their injured comrade waiting outside.
The chief officer, Kim Youngjin, called the comrade’s name.
“Ah, Team Leader.”
Chae Nayun hurried over. Her left arm was wrapped with a compression bandage and was even in a cast.
“Why are you outside? You should take care of your body.”
“Well, I was just wondering… Was Fenrir among the Rankers?”
Chae Nayun asked with a serious face. Kim Youngjin looked fixedly at the Chae Nayun.
Chae Nayun had been fixated on Fenrir too much, almost as if he was the only reason she entered the Tower.
Her obsession had only gotten worse since she was injured.
“No. Since you asked, I checked to see if any of them used a gun, but there wasn’t anyone like that.”
“Team Leader is right. Maybe that man we met in the elevator just misspoke.”
Yi Jiyoon muttered as she approached Chae Nayun. Then, she whispered into her ears.
“…But Nayun, why do you want to find Kim Hajin that much?”
Hearing this, Chae Nayun turned to the side and glared at Yi Jiyoon. However, Yi Jiyoon didn’t seem the least bit intimidated.
“Why~ I wonder why~”
“…You don’t have to know.”
“Hnnng? But I think I already do~”
Chae Nayun shot back and turned around roughly.
However, she immediately bumped into something hard.
Chae Nayun looked up instinctively and saw a big, burly man.
The man frowned. He was a ‘giant’, and she felt like she had seen him somewhere before.
The man seemed to remember her too as a huge smile emerged on his face.
“We meet again, little girl.”
Chae Nayun finally remembered who he was. He was the man who was acting as a bodyguard for an NPC in Tutorial Town.
Chae Nayun clicked her tongue and stepped back. Cheok Jungyeong smiled threateningly and tried to approach her.
However, Essence of the Strait’s guild members quickly stepped forward.
Kim Youngjin pointed his sword at Cheok Jungyeong and asked Chae Nayun.
“Who is he?”
“He’s… someone I quarreled with in Tutorial Town.”
That’s all Chae Nayun said. In response, Cheok Jungyeong smirked. His gaze was fixated on Chae Nayun’s chest.
“What, you’re Chae Nayun?”
He was looking at the nametag on her chest.
[Essence of the Strait – Chae Nayun]
Cheok Jungyeong found it funny that guilds had already begun to make nametags for themselves.
“…You know me?”
Chae Nayun asked, maintaining her composure.
Cheok Jungyeong furrowed his brows.
“Why are you talking so casually?”
“You did it first. So what?”
Her logic momentarily put Cheok Jungyeong at a loss for words. After being in a daze for a moment, he quickly snapped out and let out a dry cough.
“Kuhum, so why are you looking for Fenrir?”
“…You know him?”
Chae Nayun’s eyes widened.
Cheok Jungyeong flinched but soon shook his head calmly.
“It looks like you’re lying.”
“…I, I fought him once before.”
“You fought him?”
“Yep, and I won. But he was a tough opponent.”
Kim Hajin had told Cheok Jungyeong to remain silent on anything related to him, and Cheok Jungyeong was the type who listened his comrades’ requests. Of course, whether he was able to hide it was another matter.
Cheok Jungyeong began to whistle and looked away. Chae Nayun glared at him suspiciously, then asked another question.
“…But how do you know me?”
“Ah, well, you’re quite famous.”
Cheok Jungyeong had a habit of making a list of the strong, people who would become strong, and people who are said to be strong. That said, he could rarely remember their faces.
“Also, a Djinn bragged to me a long time ago.”
“…A Djinn? What does that have to do with me?”
In that instant, a deep, dangerous smile emerged on Cheok Jungyeong’s face.
“That crazy bastard left quite an impression on me… he said he killed your mother.”
The killer of Chae Nayun’s mother had always been a taboo for her. Immediately, Chae Nayun’s face heated up. An unbearable rage spiraled up from her heart.
She punched him instinctively.
However, her small fist was easily blocked by Cheok Jungyeong’s palm.
“Listen, kid, I’m not the one who killed your mom.”
Cheok Jungyeong was about to twist her wrist. With a little bit of pressure, he felt he could crush her bones. However…
Her bones were surprisingly tough.
“Oh? You have a surprisingly strong—”
While he was murmuring in surprise, a fierce kick struck his face. From the lightning-fast flying kick, a shockwave shot out.
“…Haha, what a daring girl.”
Cheok Jungyeong didn’t expect her to attack with one of her arms in a cast and the other in his hand. After receiving her kick, Cheok Jungyeong stood still and revealed his teeth in a grin. He could see Chae Nayun swallowed up in rage. It was the type of face he loved to see.
“You just said it. The Djinn who killed my…”
“Now? In this situation? You can’t be serious.”
Chae Nayun stared at Cheok Jungyeong. After calming herself down, she bowed.
“Sorry, I got angry and lost my cool.”
“…I got angry too when I was hit. So no.”
Cheok Jungyeong turned around coldly, and Chae Nayun immediately grabbed him.
She opened her inventory and took something out.
“I’ll give you this.”
It was a crimson spear with a strangely intimidating tip. Cheok Jungyeong checked the item info. Lv.2 Red Crystal Spear. Although Lv.2 items were nothing noteworthy in his eyes, it was the first time he was seeing a weapon infused with a fire attribute.
“Chae Nayun, even if it’s a personal item, you can’t just give it away…”
Kim Youngjin stepped up with a worried face. An attribute weapon was something anyone would desire. However, Cheok Jungyeong rejected her.
“You see, kid, I don’t use weapons.”
In Goryeo, Cheok Jungyeong had conquered the land with a sword, not his body. He cut down countless barbarians and protected his country. Naturally, his sword’s name resounded through the land along with his name.
However, he was taking a different path this time.
When he held a sword, he felt as though the world sank down. With a sword, the world became as light as a feather, becoming something that was no longer worthy of having.
Cheok Jungyeong didn’t like that.
Challenge and duel. Killing or death.
He wanted to vie for supremacy with nothing but his bare hands.
Chae Nayun didn’t give up. In fact, she became certain that the man wasn’t lying. If he was, he would have taken the Red Crystal Spear.
She took out two stiff banknotes. They were two 1000TP bills. This time, Cheok Jungyeong showed a little more interest.
“This is all I have.”
“…I don’t need it. Use it to treat your arm. I don’t want my future opponent to be a cripple.”
Cheok Jungyeong reigned in his desire for wealth and coldly declined the offer.
When he turned around once more, Chae Nayun’s sharp shout rang out.
“Hey! F-Fuck, that was a lie, right?! If you weren’t going to tell me, why did you even say that!?”
Hearing her scream, Cheok Jungyeong paused. He looked back by turning his head slightly.
The moment Chae Nayun met his eyes, she changed her tone to a respectful one.
Cheok Jungyeong calmly replied.
“I like people who are strong.”
“This one’s sobriquet is Goryeo’sStrongest.”
He took on an imposing tone and stared at Chae Nayun. His face still stung from the kick of a girl who barely came up to his chest.
“You can send me a friend request. If I like you, I might tell you. Challenge me whenever you want. I’ll accept it.”
“Goryeo’sStrongest is your nickname? Ah, hey!”
Cheok Jungyeong waved his hand and quietly walked away. Chae Nayun didn’t chase after him any further.
“Haha, this place is full of interesting people.”
He had already found over ten people to put in his ‘strong people list’.
Kim Ohsung, one of Satan’s servants. Kim Hakpyo, the executive of Evil Society. The high-ranked Heroes, Oh Junhyuk and Seo Youngji. And Kim Junwoo, the hunter of the Vast Expanse.
“This really is the perfect place for something big to happen. Heh, I’m happy there are so many people to fight~”
Cheok Jungyeong grinned, and at that moment…
A ruckus rose up behind him. Cheok Jungyeong looked back without much thought.
The girl that was yelling at him rudely was now collapsed on the ground.
“…What an interesting girl. Truly.”
Cheok Jungyeong shook his head.
Outskirts of Prestige.
After taking care of matters on Earth, I returned to the Tower. I put out an announcement, notifying that Truth Agency was taking a break for a little longer, then I contacted SH Agency’s CEO, Park Soohyuk, to buy a special artifact from the auction house when the time comes.
Currently, I was in front of the elevator to the 2nd floor. I didn’t tell Boss or any other members of the Chameleon Troupe what I was up to. With what I found out from Yoo Yeonha, I wasn’t quite sure how to face them.
However, I wasn’t worried. I had already made full preparations. I was covered in all sorts of high-level equipment that Players on the 2nd floor couldn’t even dream of having. My skills were Lv.3 as well.
I was fully confident in being able to kill Jin Sahyuk.
“Huu… let’s go.”
Still, she was the final boss I designed. I couldn’t help but feel a bit scared, but I shook it off with self-hypnosis and entered the elevator.
I pressed the button to the 2nd floor.
[Warning – you will need to get a new citizenship identification card when you come back.]
The elevator moved.
The time it took to reach the 2nd floor was 4 hours.
Wondering what to do during this time, I took out Muninn’s egg, which I brought from my waiting room. From its original chicken egg size, it grew bigger until it was now as big as an ostrich egg. I brought it with me, since it looked like it was going to hatch soon.
At that moment, a system alert popped up.
[A certain Player has entered the 5th floor!]
That was quicker than I thought.
Well, the 4th floor wasn’t hard, so it wasn’t too surprising. But Players should start getting stuck from the 6th floor. Furthermore, I only had to prevent them from reaching the 9th floor.
Because of the calamity on the 9th floor, it had to opened as lately as possible.
I took out a blanket and lay down on the elevator.
The 9th floor was the 9th floor. For now, I decided to only think about Jin Sahyuk.