Chapter 206. A Strange Battle (1)


Screams and howls, sounds of explosion and battle, the smell of blood and metal, and the undulation of magic power…
Crevon’s princess, ‘Araha’, was currently watching the process of the demons’ attack being suppressed. As it was the first battle she ever witnessed, her heart was beating with excitement.

—Kuak!
—Kuuk!

Short screams signifying deaths of demons rang out. After watching this scene of carnage for a while, Araha turned to the martial artist sitting next to her like a stone.

“Aren’t you going to fight, Sir Lü Bu?”

“…I’m here to protect Prince and Princess.”

Lü Bu returned a short reply. Araha smiled faintly. She could clearly see that Lü Bu was holding back his desire to join the battle.

“You can go if you want. I’m stronger than I look. I’m capable of defending myself.”

“….”

Lü Bu shook his head.
Chwaaa—
At that moment, a golden flash of light shot up, annihilating a group of monsters.
Lü Bu and Araha simultaneously turned to that direction. A black-haired young man was standing there. He was clearly powerful but was also incredibly handsome.
Lü Bu stared at the man with a burning gaze.

[MasterHolySword]

His nickname was ‘MasterHolySword’. A shining sword was in his hand, befitting of his name. After joining the battle, the man seemed to be dancing as he displayed his swordsmanship. His holy sword cut through magic power and cut down every monster with ease.

As MasterHolySword continued to show his strength, Lü Bu’s gaze became deeper. Araha could easily see through Lü Bu’s heart.

“You want to fight him?”

“…No.”

Lü Bu retorted with an obvious lie, after which he suddenly felt a gaze fall on him. The gaze carried an emotion similar to the one he currently had.

“….”

Lü Bu turned his head to the side. A robed giant was standing there. But in the next moment, the giant tore off his robe and sent it flying in the air.

His huge stature was revealed, and the man stared at Lü Bu with a thick smile on his face.

Lü Bu stood up and received the giant’s gaze.
The man slowly walked forward and arrived in front of Lü Bu.

“Are you an enemy?”

Lü Bu asked as he tightened his grip on his weapon, the Square Sky Halberd.
The giant replied.

“Cheok Jungyeong.”

Lü Bu’s eyebrows twitched.

“That’s my name.”

“…Answer my question.”

“I’ve come to fight you.”

The two warriors’ conversation didn’t proceed like a normal conversation, and Araha watched over them amidst a small confusion and panic.

“I don’t have time to deal with personal affairs.”

Lü Bu rejected the giant’s offer to fight. The giant, who called himself Cheok Jungyeong, frowned and then turned his attention to Araha, who was standing next to Lü Bu. Araha stared at Cheok Jungyeong blankly.

“In that case…”

Cheok Jungyeong’s large hand reached out towards the princess. Lü Bu grabbed his wrist strongly. Cheok Jungyeong put strength into his grabbed arm, but it didn’t budge. It was the first time he was faced with such humiliation, but he was happy.

Since his arm couldn’t move, Cheok Jungyeong turned his head instead and looked at Lü Bu.
The two warriors’ gazes of steel clashed.
Cheok Jungyeong grinned and opened his mouth.
Immediately afterwards, a thundering roar came out of his throat.

“Let’s, f—i—g—h—t—!”

Cheok Jungyeong’s muscles bulked up as if to explode. His instant, amplified strength shook off Lü Bu’s hand.

In that instant, Lü Bu fell into a dilemma. In his hand was the Square Sky Halberd. However, his enemy didn’t have a weapon. Although an honorary fight between two warriors had to be done in the same condition, would it be right to leave behind his beloved Square Sky Halberd…?
Soon, a faint smile emerged on Lü Bu’s face.
Lü Bu’s fist shot forward. Cheok Jungyeong also swung his arm.
The two warriors’ fists clashed.
A mighty torrent of magic power erupted from their point of contact, spreading outward and shaking both heaven and earth.

**


[3F, Lv.8 Chameleon Troupe’s Hideout]

6 hours later, we returned to our hideout on the 3rd floor.
Boss, Jin Yohan, Jain, and I were fine, but Cheok Jungyeong was unconscious. He was thoroughly beaten up as there wasn’t a single place on his body that wasn’t bruised.
I put Cheok Jungyeong down on a bed and spread the stolen items out on the floor.

“Wow….”

Jain’s eyes sparkled, seeing the treasures sparkling in various colors.

“W-What are we going to do with them?”

“Mm… we can’t sell them because they’re too precious.”

Each item was worth at least 150,000TP, which was too much for Players to afford.
If we really wanted to sell them, we would have to use Crevon’s black market or sell to an administrator, but we needed to wait at least a year for the first option and we needed to worry about our items getting stolen with the second.
The administrator’s personality wasn’t the problem. Because we would be using them to sell stolen goods, they could argue that we were committing a crime and forcibly take the items away.

“So we’re going to split them among ourselves.”

This time’s auction had more luxurious and rare collector’s items than useful ones. For example, the [Cintamani] and the [Crystal Rose]. As the only item I really wanted was the unique skillbook, I didn’t care how the rest were distributed.

I checked the unique skill once again.

===
[Lv.8 Unique Skill – Clockhand of Fate]
○Fate
—You can select up to 8 targets to be your ‘Fate’.
—For 3 minutes, when fighting your ‘Fate’, your variable stats and special stats increase by 300%. (Usable once every 120 hours).
○Time Reversal
—You can return to the past by three minutes. (Recharged once every 720 hours. Up to 3 charges can be stored).
○Body Reversal
—Activated when your physical body dies.
—Your physical body returns to its state 10 minutes before your death. (2 lifetime usage).
===

Anyone could tell that it was extremely overpowered.
Feeling exceedingly satisfied by today’s haul, I spoke kindly at the Chameleon Troupe members who were looking at me.

“Take something you like.”

“We can?”

Jain was a given, but even Boss and Jin Yohan’s eyes sparkled.

“Of course. Ah, but let me choose one first.”

I picked up [Hwai’s Sword Technique] to give to Suho. I didn’t know anything about it, but since it was a sword technique, I figured it would be useful to Kim Suho. Fighting, Kim Suho!

“Me, me! I’ll go next~”

Jain raised her hand and focused her gaze on the treasures. Then suddenly…

—Kieeeek!

Spartan appeared in a flash with an air-cutting sound.

“Ah, another one….”

I sighed. I was exhausted, but another group seemed to have come to the World’s End Bridge. They must be planning on doing something while Crevon was in chaos.

“I have to go.”

“….”

Everyone else was too busy picking out their treasure to pay attention to me.
I laughed and activated the portable crystal stele. The surrounding scenery changed in an instant.

Standing on the watchtower I constructed, I pulled a wooden arrow out of my inventory and shot it at the six-person party walking on the bridge.

—Tak.

The arrow quickly flew out and struck the ground in front of them.

—Uwoah!
—Aaak!
—R-Run!

It seemed they just wanted to test the waters in case I wasn’t here as they backed off in terror as soon as they saw the arrow.

“Whew.”

I breathed a sigh of relief. I didn’t have much energy left to spend.
—Tiring.
At that moment, I received a message.

Nayunjajangman: 「Hyung-nim!!! Where are you, Hyung-nim?!! Crevon is in chaos right now!!!」

Her message was full of exclamation marks. She must have woken up. Chae Nayun really wasn’t the type of person to stay fainted for long.
I smiled with bitterness as I typed my reply.

「I know, but I’m okay. I’m on the 7th floor.」

**


Four days later.
Under a clear sky and warm breeze, a commendation ceremony led by the Atalos Royal Family took place. The purpose of the ceremony was to honor Crevon’s soldiers and Outsiders who fought off the demons’ attack.
As such, many Outsiders – Players – were currently gathered on the royal family’s lawn.

“He’s not here….”

Jin Seyeon was one of the Players invited to this ceremony. But for some reason, she didn’t seem too interested, as she kept glancing around as if to look for someone.

“Are you looking for something, Senior?”

Kim Suho walked up to her. Kim Suho was scheduled to receive a grade-3 commendation, the highest out of any Player.

“Ah, perfect timing, Suho.”

Jin Seyeon looked glad to see Kim Suho.

“Where’s Fenrir?”

“Fenrir? Hajin, you mean?”

“Yeah!”

Seeing Kim Suho tilt his head in confusion, Jin Seyeon explained her plan to defeat Black Lotus. After hearing it, Kim Suho nodded with widened eyes.

“That does seem like a good plan.”

“Right? Then—”

“But I don’t know where Hajin is.”

“…Eh?”

Jin Seyeon tilted her head. Feeling awkward, Kim Suho scratched his neck.

“I don’t even know his nickname.”

“…Aren’t you guys friends?”

“We are, but Hajin has many secrets….”

Kim Suho laughed awkwardly and avoided meeting Jin Seyone’s eyes. Then, he suddenly clapped as though he remembered something. Jin Seyeon, who was looking disappointed, quickly flashed her eyes.

“I think Rachel might know.”

“Rachel?”

“Yep. She’s right there.”

Kim Suho pointed into the crowd. There, the beautifully dressed Rachel was greeting Crevon’s nobles.

“Ah~ Okay, thanks!”

Jin Seyeon hopped over to Rachel.

…On the other hand, ‘Aruon Von Atalos Philip’, who was watching over the commendation ceremony, asked Araha who was in the same position.

“Are you okay?”

Araha put on a confused face at Aruon’s sudden question.

“What do you mean, Elder Brother?”

“…The Crane Feather Fan.”

“Ah~”

Araha laughed. Almost all of the items from the Banquet of Honor had been stolen by demons, and they almost killed Phiunel as well. It was clear to anyone that the auction’s items were the demons’ aim the entire time.

“It’s fine~ Anyways, look at that girl.”

Araha pointed her finger at a blonde-haired girl, Rachel. Rachel was talking with Jin Seyeon, who had just come to find her.

“She’s apparently royalty too.”

“She is?”

“Yep, royalty from the outside world.”

“…I see.”

Aruon wasn’t too interested in the outside world. Based on the education he received from the royal court, he believed it was a tiny world compared to the Tower. Aruon was more concerned about the 300,000TP Crane Feather Fan than such a small world.

“…To lose 300,000 TP like that.”

“Eh? That’s why you were down this whole time?”

Araha snickered and took out a small machine. It looked like a box but had a strange insignia on its lid.

“What’s that?”

“It’s called a tracking device~ I put a mark on the Crane Feather Fan, thinking something like this would happen.”

“…You mean.”

“Yep, the Crane Feather Fan is on the 3rd floor right now.”

Araha spoke with a bright voice.

“I’m planning on asking Lü Bu. What do you think?”

“You can’t command a royal guard by yourself.”

“What? Just because I’m the fifth princess? Because I’m low on the hierarchy?”

Aruon replied coldly.

“Exactly.”

“Eeeh… hiinng….”

Araha pouted and let out a moaning sound.

“But I, the fourth prince, can.”

“Really? Really, really, really?”

“Yeah.”

Aruon’s dignified nodding made Araha smile.

“Then I want to go with Lü Bu.”

“No.”

“Ah~ Why not!? Then I won’t tell you anything about the fan’s location.”

“…You know, the Crane Feather Fan is yours.”

“Hmph, Oppa wanted it too. Don’t lie to me.”

“…Kuhum.”

Aruon let out a dry cough. It was a 300,000TP item. If he didn’t want it, he wouldn’t have lent out so much, even to his younger sister.

“Anyways, we can talk about this later. The commendation ceremony is starting. Focus.”

**


[Two days later, 8-3F Crevon. Ironblood Duchess’ mansion.]

…Five days had passed since the demons’ attack.
At the moment, I was leisurely watching TV in Tomer’s mansion.
Well, it wasn’t really a TV but a magic crystal ball.
In any case, Crevon had a crystal ball that acted like a TV. Other than its odd shape, it was no different than Earth’s TV, having variety shows, dramas, and even advertisements.

—Who will be the winner of Crevon’s 17th Craftsmanship Tournament…!?

The host built up a sense of suspense as I watched the crystal ball intently.

—The item winning the grand prize is…. dudududu!

‘Hurry up! We just finished watching an ad. If you cut to another one, I’ll snipe your ass!’

—The Wolf’s Fragrance!

I clenched my fist triumphantly.

—The ‘Wolf’s Fragrance’ is a robe which received the highest praise from all 23 judges! Looking at this beautiful robe makes us suspect whether the missing dwarves have returned! Its patterns are elegant and delicate like an ancient work of art, and the magic power infused in the robe has a truly exquisite harmony with….

“Whew.”

The host was reciting the judges’ comments, but I turned the TV off since I knew that I won.
Lying on a comfy bed, I took out the Directory Jain stole from Phiunel.

===
[Lv.11 Directory]
○Lv.11 Individual Info
—You can see the history of people you’ve met.
○Lv.11 Detailed Info
—You can see the detailed stats of people you’ve met. (You can only check up to 3 people’s information every 24 hours. Stats above 11 points cannot be estimated.)
===

Using the Directory’s Detailed Info function, I checked the stats of two characters of interest.

===
[Jin Seyeon]
▷Stats
*Variable Stats
[Strength 9.675]
[Stamina 8.350]
[Speed 10.050]
[Perception ??]
[Magic Power 11.000]
[Vitality 10.505]
===

===
[Aileen]
▷Stats
*Variable Stats
[Strength 6.950]
[Stamina 6.815]
[Speed 8.585]
[Perception ??]
[Magic Power ??]
[Vitality 8.135]
===

“…I might be screwed if they come to the bridge now.”

They were over-specced even in their stat-restricted state. With Yi Yongha and Shin Jonghak added on top, I found it unlikely that I could prevent them from crossing the World’s End Bridge.
Of course, I’ve already succeeded in blocking the World’s End Bridge for 3 months, which was more than satisfactory. I should be able to block it for a while longer with the Chameleon Troupe members’ help… If I could hold out for another month, things would probably be safe.

Tiring—
I received a message.

CaptainBritain: 「Hajin-ssi, you’re coming today, right?」

“Hmm.”

I had an appointment today with Jin Seyeon.
According to Rachel, Jin Seyeon wanted to defeat ‘Black Lotus’ with me.
I wanted to reject such a comedic offer at first, but when I thought about it again, it seemed like the perfect chance to buy time and earn SP.

“Let’s see….”

I got up and checked my wardrobe. I wanted to wear casual clothes, but Tomer’s guest wardrobe only had suits.

“This’ll do.”

I picked what I liked the most.

**


[8-3F, heart of Crevon, Aileen’s hideout sponsored by the Hail Family]

After the previous demon attack incident, a small change happened in Crevon’s society. A few nobles had expressed a desire to sponsor a few Players.
Of course, the chance was limited to Players who displayed overwhelming battle prowess or loyalty during the demon attack incident.

“…Geez.”

Aileen, who stood out even among Players, was in a position that allowed her to select the noble family to sponsor her, and she chose the Hail Family, who was rich and had a great vision for the future.

“Is he really coming?”

Inside the luxury hideout provided by the Hail Family, Aileen grumbled in displeasure. Kim Hajin, who was supposed to have arrived at 6, was late by 30 minutes.
Jin Seyeon glanced at the clock, then at Rachel.
Rachel flinched.

“He, he said he’ll be here soon…. Ah!”

Kiik—
The hideout door then opened. Rachel faced the door with a glow on her face.

“Looks like Hajin-ssi is… here…?”

Aileen, Jin Seyeon, Yi Yongha, and even Rachel tilted their heads. At the door was a man wearing a black suit and sunglasses.

“Sorry I’m late.”

The man bowed as he took off his sunglasses. Rachel was familiar with the man’s face.

“Ah, whew… Why were you late, Hajin-ssi?”

“I live faraway. Sorry.”

“Um, what’s up with the suit?”

“Ah, well, I’m meeting two famous Rankers, so I thought I’d dress up nicely for the occasion.”

Hearing this, Jin Seyeon got up and extended her hand.

“Nice to meet you, Fenrir-ssi.”

“Ah, yes, me too. You can just call me Kim Hajin. I find the name Fenrir kind of cringy.”

“Sure. Take a seat, Hajin-ssi.”

Jin Seyeon guided Kim Hajin to a chair. Kim Hajin sat down quietly, while Aileen glared at him unhappily from the opposite side.
Jin Seyeon brought up the main topic as soon as possible.

“I heard Rachel already explained the plan in detail.”

“Yes.”

Jin Seyeon nodded, hearing Kim Hajin’s answer. She didn’t like wasting time needlessly.

“Then do you mind if we do a quick test—”

Before Jin Seyeon could even finish her sentence, Kim Hajin placed his gun on the table.
Kim Hajin infused his magic power into the gun under everyone’s scrutiny. The beautiful handgun then transformed into a 1.4-meter-long anti-material sniper rifle.

“Whoa, is this a watergun?”

Aileen’s eyes sparkled as though she found an interesting toy.

“As expected of a gun-related Gift….”

Kim Hajin didn’t correct Jin Seyeon’s wrong guess. In fact, he transformed the sniper rifle back into a handgun and put it away so as to not reveal any more information.

“So, about the plan… I heard me, Aileen-ssi, and Jin Seyeon-ssi will shoot down Black Lotus.”

Everyone nodded at Kim Hajin’s words.

“Yes, we’re thinking about carrying out the plan on Monday four days later.”

However, Kim Hajin immediately put out a different idea.

“All of us won’t even be necessary. Give me a month. I can shoot down Black Lotus by myself.”

“…Yes?”
“…What?”

His shocking statement made Aileen burst out into laughter.
Kim Hajin looked back and forth between Jin Seyeon and Aileen. They were both dumbfounded, but Aileen was the first to speak.

“You must be crazy. Because of Seung-Ah, I was thinking about letting go of the fact that you arrived late, but this… Even without you, we—”

“Wait.”

Jin Seyeon put up her arm and stopped Aileen from continuing.

“You can do it alone in a month?”

“Yes, without a gaudy plan, I can make you be the first one to reach the 9th floor. Of course, you’ll have to compensate me properly.”

“…Like a mercenary mission.”

“Exactly. I am a mercenary, and you will be the customer.”

“Wait!”

Aileen smacked Jin Seyeon’s arm away.

“What can you do? Also, why a month? It’s not like your watergun will change in a month—”

Jin Seyeon put up her arm once again and stopped her.

“Do you have a method?”

“I’ll explain later.”

“No!”

Aileen pushed Jin Seyeon’s arm down to speak up.

“Tell us now—”

But Jin Seyeon raised her arm once again and stopped Aileen.

“Haaaa… I can only be patient for so long….”

Aileen’s eyebrows shook in genuine anger.

“…Move.”

“What do you mean?”

Jin Seyeon tilted her head with a straight face.

“Move your arm!”

“Ah.”

Jin Seyeon put her arm down. Aileen fumed as she glared at Jin Seyeon, but Jin Seyeon’s gaze was only focused on Kim Hajin.

“Why do you need a month?”

Hearing Jin Seyeon’s question, Kim Hajin leaned against the back of his chair. Then, he spoke with a serious tone.

“…It’s better to have more time.”

“What? See, you can’t trust this kid—”

Jin Seyeon raised her arm once again. But it seemed even Jin Seyeon had a problem with his statement this time.

“I find that hard to believe. Black Lotus currently stands at the peak of Players. Without knowing your strength, we can’t blindly… hm?”

Jin Seyeon felt something wet on her arm. Curious, she turned her head sideways and saw Aileen strongly biting down on her arm.

“…What are you doing, Lady Aileen?”

“I told you not to put up your arm—!”

“Um… ah, it hurts, it hurts.”

Jin Seyeon didn’t feel even the slightest pain, but she said so out of courtesy.

“Uuuuu!”

“Let go, Lady Aileen, let go~ I’m sorry~~”

Aileen bit down and even grit her teeth, while Jin Seyeon clearly pretended to be in pain.
Kim Hajin and Rachel, who were in the same room, held themselves back from laughing.

“…Hmph.”

After some time, Aileen let go of Jin Seyeon and glared at her instead.

“Try that one more time and see what happens.”

“Yes, yes, I’m sorry.”

Kim Hajin felt proud of himself for managing to hold back his laughter as he took out his handgun.

“Well, you see, there’s a simple reason I can defeat Black Lotus. It’s a matter of suitability.”

“Suitability?”

“Yes, you could say that I’m his perfect counter.”

Kim Hajin transformed his handgun into a shotgun. After loading it with bullets, he turned to Aileen.

“Lady Aileen.”

“…What?”

Aileen seemed to be embarrassed by her previous display as she averted her gaze.

“Try using Barrier.”

“…Barrier?”

“Yep, with full power. I’ll break it easily.”

In that instant, a thick silence descended into the room. No one dared to make any noise.
Aileen looked at Kim Hajin in a daze.
The emotion in her eyes wasn’t anger or displeasure but 100% pure astonishment.

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