Chapter 207. A Strange Battle (2)


[8-3F, Hospital Medical Office]

Crevon’s hospital was no different than Earth’s. It had the same knowledge on sanitation and germs, while its healing techniques were even more advanced.
As such, Players, who were exposed to highly dense demonic energy in the previous demon attack, came here to be treated.

“….”

Shin Jonghak was also one of the Player patients. He wasn’t hurt or in pain. He wasn’t poisoned by demonic energy either. The only reason he was here was to see Chae Nayun.

“Why are you staring at me like that?”

Chae Nayun, who was in the middle of a ‘holy power treatment’, grimaced.

“You’re not going back to the hideout?”

“…I’m up next. I’m just waiting.”

Shin Jonghak returned an answer expressionlessly. As it was the truth, Chae Nayun remained silent and quietly let the priest cure her.

“It’s not painful, so stay still.”

The priest spoke. Since a while ago, Chae Nayun was trembling nervously because of the ‘holy power injector’ which looked like a syringe.

“…Okay.”

On the day of the demon attack, she jumped into battle as soon as she regained consciousness. During the fight, her right arm received a small injury, and she was getting treated to eliminate any demonic energy that might remain in her body.

“Um, my head is okay, right?”

“Yes, there’s nothing wrong.”

Chae Nayun fell into thought hearing the priest’s words. However, she soon shook it off and decided not to think about that day. Doing so made her depressed, gave her a small headache, and ignited a flame of anger in her heart.

“…That should be a psychological problem.”

The priest spoke. Did he have a mind-reading ability? Chae Nayun scratched her cheek and checked her messenger.

Extra7: 「Don’t overwork yourself. If you’re in danger, message me.」

Extra7’s message.
Chae Nayun looked at the [Lv.5 Invitation Letter to the Love Room] in her inventory. Recently, she had been getting urges to summon him.
At that moment, a stinging pain squeezed her arm.

“Ow!”

“There. The poison has completely left your system, so you can go home now.”

“Auu… thank you.”

‘You said it wouldn’t be painful…’ Chae Nayun glared at the priest as she got up.

“Have a nice day~”

After picking up the longsword leaning on the wall, she opened the door to leave. Then, Shin Jonghak, who was sitting on the chair by the door, grabbed her wrist.

“Hm? What’s up?”

“…I’ll be done soon.”

Shin Jonghak muttered while looking into the air.
‘Wait for me and let’s go back together’. That’s what he wanted to say, but it didn’t come out so easily.

“So what?”

“….”

Shin Jonghak knew about the hardships Chae Nayun recently faced. When she was in pain from the banshee’s curse, he couldn’t do anything. He massacred countless undead monsters, but he couldn’t find an antidote.

“Do you want me to wait for you?”

Chae Nayun said what Shin Jonghak wanted and then placed her hand on his head.

“….”

Shin Jonghak raised his head and looked at Chae Nayun. Shin Jonghak knew who cured Chae Nayun’s curse. Yi Jiyoon had told him under the promise that he would keep it a secret.

“…No, it’s fine.”

Shin Jonghak couldn’t help but shake his head. He suddenly recalled his grandfather Shin Myungchul’s smile. When Shin Jonghak was a kid, his grandfather was a member of the Nine Stars, respected by the entire world. Shin Myungchul was a Hero among Heroes, the pride of Korea, and the glory of his clan.

However, Shin Jonghak knew that his grandfather found his fame embarrassing. Shin Myungchul often tormented himself for being unable to protect his wife, the person he loved the most. In his mind, having saved the world paled in comparison to this mistake.

“Then let go.”

Chae Nayun’s sharp voice awakened Shin Jonghak from his thoughts. Shin Jonghak lightly smiled and let go of Chae Nayun’s wrist.

“By the way, who hit your temple?”

He still asked what he was curious about. He was prepared to go after the perpetrator.
‘Who dares to hit Chae Nayun’s head? It’s already mostly empty.’ He thought.

“…I don’t know.”

Chae Nayun frowned and continued with a face that was clearly pretending to be oblivious.

“But if I meet him, I’ll pay back this debt 10 times, no, 100 times over.”

Her words carried a deep conviction.
Shin Jonghak grinned and nodded.

**


[8-3F, Aileen’s Hideout, Sparring Room]

Aileen tried to avoid the test, perhaps because of her pride, but I eventually got her to agree. Jin Seyeon and Rachel had also helped to persuade her.

“Haa… I don’t know why I’m here doing this~”

Aileen laughed in vain as she swung her silvery white hair back. I checked the Desert Eagle’s condition and spoke.

“It’ll be over soon.”

“I know. Ehew….”

Aileen sighed and skillfully unleashed her magic power.

“When you go back to Earth, be sure to thank Seung-Ah.”

With those words, she casted Barrier with a textbook, dome shape.

“This Barrier is going to be sturdy.”

Aileen added her Spirit Speech on top of it. With a single sentence, her Barrier became even more powerful.
I raised my gun.
In case Aileen got hurt, I aimed at the corner of the Barrier and loaded a single bullet into the gun.
—Scan.
After murmuring quietly, I infused 1.5 streaks of Stigma into the bullet. The ‘anti-magic’ and ‘spell-breaking’ properties I added should destroy Aileen’s Barrier and Spirit Speech simultaneously.

“I’m shooting.”

“Yeah~ Yeah~ Go ahead~”

Aileen murmured while yawning.
I immediately pulled the trigger.
The bullet shot out of the barrel and instantly struck Aileen’s Barrier.

“Haam….”

Chwaaak— The bullet shot past the yawning Aileen’s head.
Clang— Then, the sound of glass shattering resounded.

“…Un?”

It took some time for Aileen to realize what happened. She stood in a daze for a moment, then looked around the sparring room in a hurry.

“What?”

An incomprehensible scene unfolded before her eyes. The Barrier she formed was gone, and the pieces of magic power on the floor showed that it had been destroyed.

“W-What? What happened? W-Where’s my Barrier?”

Flustered, Aileen suddenly acted strangely. She reached out to where her Barrier would have been.

“Where… did it….”

She touched the air as though her Barrier had just turned invisible. Leaving her behind, I turned around and faced Jin Seyeon and Rachel.

“How is it?”

They also had strange expressions. The doubts they previously had were gone and replaced by a similar level of astonishment.

“What, what did you do?”

While Rachel only stared blankly with her mouth open, Jin Seyeon asked.

“Mm… a combination of my Gift, skill, and weapon?”

“C-Come again?”

I made up a lie by mixing in some truth. That I had bought several [Equipment Consolidation Coupons] to use on the Desert Eagle and that my special skill, [Algorithm], strengthened mechanical weapons I used.

“I see… but don’t guns have issues with bullets…?”

“Don’t worry about that. I have a lot.”

The limited number of bullets was no longer an issue for me. This was one of the reasons I rescued the blacksmith NPC ‘Kedrick’.
Kedrick was currently working in a smith with countless disciples under him. They had more than enough skill to make bullets, and I had given them the specifications long ago. Now, they were able to pump out 20 handgun bullets, 10 assault rifle bullets, and 5 sniper rifle bullets a day.

“Hey, hey, hey! T-This is wrong! Something isn’t right here!”

At that moment, Aileen hurriedly ran in front of me.

“Do, do it again. I went too easy on you. I forgot that my stats were restricted and underestimated you. It’s my mistake, so do it again.”

Aileen spat out a flurry of words. I mulled over my options and then agreed with her to instil a greater trust in me. It was true that Aileen didn’t go all out.

“Okay but hold on a second.”

I turned around and hid myself from their line of sight. If Aileen was going to go all out, I needed to prepare myself. I used 1.5 streaks of Stigma before too.
Using my smartwatch, I modified the setting of a bullet.

[Anti-Aileen Bullet]
—Decreases the power of Aileen’s Spirit Speech that is related to defense.

[40SP will be consumed. Would you like to save this change?]

The modification required 40 SP even with how much limited its use was. Was Aileen that amazing or did I just write wrong?
In any case, I saved the change and loaded my gun with the bullet.

“Alright! Try it again!”

Aileen formed another Barrier and shouted confidently.

“As long as my magic power allows it, this Barrier will never break!”

Aileen shouted like an excited kid.
I slowly raised my gun and pulled the trigger. The bullet drew a clear trajectory as it shot forward.

“…Ah.”

A short exclamation muttered out.
Clang—
The sound of glass shattering rang out once again.
The result was the same as last time.

“How….”

Aileen looked like she just lost her country as she murmured in a daze.
Thud. Aileen fell to her knees. Then, she stared at the fragments of magic power scattered on the ground.
Did I just shatter her Barrier or confidence? I wasn’t sure.

“Um, truth be told, I’m just overgeared….”

I looked at Jin Seyeon.

“Anyways, can you leave it to me?”

Jin Seyeon nodded.

**

I walked down Crevon’s streets with Rachel.
Aileen returned to the hideout in shock, and Jin Seyeon went with her to cheer her up. Overall, things went quite well.

“You’ve gotten so strong.”

Rachel had a bitter expression as she said that.

“Same goes for you. From what I hear on the Community, you must have recovered most of your stats.”

“I recovered about 80%. I was lucky enough to get lots of time on the 6th floor.”

Rachel should have gotten about 120 hours.

“Oh, and I never revealed your nickname to anyone.”

Rachel said so as if to tell me not to worry.

“Thank you. …Um, can I ask you for a favor?”

I took out [Hwai’s Sword Technique] from my pocket. I brought it with me in case I ran into Suho, but it seemed he wasn’t here. I didn’t know how to meet him either since we didn’t share our nicknames.

“Sure.”

Rachel replied with a bright smile.

“Then here.”

I gave [Hwai’s Sword Technique] to Rachel. It should look like [Hwai’s Basic Sword Move] to Rachel. I had used Setting Intervention to change its name in case it drew unwanted suspicion.

“Give it to Suho.”

“Okay.”

Rachel took the item without even checking what it was. She tried to put it in her inventory, but [Hwai’s Sword Technique] wasn’t an item that could go in one.
Rachel tilted her head in confusion and looked at me.

“….”

She blinked and asked with her eyes, ‘What’s this?’

“Um, there are items that can’t go in the inventory.”

“Ah, I see….”

Rachel put [Hwai’s Sword Technique] in the pocket of her [Lv.4 Black Suit]. But since it would be rude of me to not give anything to Rachel, I took out a wrist protector from my inventory.

“Here.”

“Okay.”

Rachel took the item without much thought.

“Wow….”

The wrist protector’s beautiful design immediately caught her attention.

“Who should I give this to?”

Seeing Rachel stare at the wrist protector intently, I answered.

“To Rachel.”

“…Yes?”

“You.”

Rachel’s feet stopped. Then, she fixed her widened eyes at me.

“Think of it as a delivery fee.”

This wrist protector was an item I used before, just like the [Lv.4 Black Suit] she was wearing.

“This is a Lv.5 item….”

“Well, I’m quite rich. Try wearing it.”

Rachel stood blankly for a moment before nodding and putting on the wrist protector. She treated it with extreme care, probably because of its level.

“Oh~ It looks good on you. It’s almost like it was made to go with that armor you’re wearing. Use it well.”

If I had to come up with a name for what Rachel was wearing, I would have to go with [Kim Hajin’s Old Equipment Set], but Rachel, who didn’t know this, looked deeply touched.

**


…Time quickly flew, and three weeks passed by.
During these three weeks, Kim Suho and other Players grew by an enormous amount thanks to nobles opening their hearts to Players and lending their guards to spar. As I said before, Crevon was a great place to get stronger by fighting.

In any case, there was now 10 days until D-Day.
10 days later, I would have to kill Black Lotus as Fenrir. Since I hired Jain for the show, I wouldn’t need to worry about being found out.

[I heard Fenrir is going to fight Black Lotus.]
[A wolf vs a flower. Obviously, the wolf should win.]
ㄴYeah, no.
[I hope the wolf wins.]
[I wonder what’s on the 9th floor :O]

“…What a party.”

I didn’t know how the rumor spread, but Fenrir vs Black Lotus became something like the battle of the century. I was happy with the SP I was gaining because of it.
I turned the Community off and turned on the crystal ball TV.

—We prepared an interview with one of the participants in the round-of-8, ‘Boshy’.

An interview for the Martial Tournament was underway. The tournament started out with 512 people in the main rounds, which had now dwindled down to just 8.

—Hello, Miss Boshy.

Today’s guest was a robed woman named Boshy.

—…Hel…lo.

Boss was nervous. I could tell by the way her hands were cusped together and how her fingers were fidgeting shyly.

—You defeated ‘Masked Knight’ and advanced to the round-of-8. How do you feel right now?

Boss replied after a bit of hesitation.

—…I feel good.

The MC became lost for words at her short reply. A long silence descended inside the screen. Should they skip to the advertisement now?

—I see… you feel good. Then what do you plan on doing today to celebrate advancing to the round-of-8?

Boss replied confidently at this question.

—I’m going sunwatching.

—Sunwatching… you mean you’re going to Prestige?

—Right.

At the perfect timing, my smartwatch rang.

[Prestige’s Sunrise Ceremony will start in 3 hours.]

Today was the day a sun would rise in Prestige.

**


[3F, Prestige]

Bell and Jin Sahyuk came out to Prestige’s streets. Jin Sahyuk was wearing a robe, but she was no longer gasping for breath because of the banshee’s curse. It was thanks to the ‘incomplete curse counteragent’ Bell brought from 8-2F.

“…How’s your body?”

Bell looked at Jin Sahyuk and asked. Jin Sahyuk remained silent.

“Stay hidden. We’re in a relatively safe place, but it’ll be difficult if you run into trouble in that state.”

“….”

Jin Sahyuk didn’t even have the strength to reply. Of course, the curse was no longer such a big problem. By bathing in Prestige’s sunlight, the damned banshee’s curse would be wiped away. No, Jin Sahyuk’s magic power would devour it with a vengeance.

“…I’ve suffered enough.”

Bell didn’t needle Jin Sahyuk about it. He knew the humiliation Jin Sahyuk went through. To her current self, just thinking about those times should bring pain.

“Do you want to eat something? Like your favorite corn fried rice.”

“…Later.”

Jin Sahyuk knew she had to eat to recover her strength. She retorted briefly, and Bell nodded his head.
They slowly walked together and stood with a huge crowd.
Medea’s palace could be seen in the distance. The ‘First Sun’ would rise above it today.

—How long do we have to wait?
—10 minutes.
—What happened to the inner wall?
—Oh, apparently they’re gradually pulling it down.

Players were talking among themselves loudly. Jin Sahyuk pulled her robe down further and sighed.
Bell spoke.

“Sahyuk.”

“…What.”

“Can you wait here for a second? We might not have time to buy the corn fried rice afterwards, so I’ll go buy it now.”

Jin Sahyuk nodded. For some reason, she really wanted to eat corn fried rice today. Because of Rumi, she was only able to eat porridge until now.

“Then wait here.”

“Okay.”

Bell quickly disappeared, and Jin Sahyuk waited for the sun to rise inside the crowd of Players and NPCs.
The artificial sun had the ability to weaken curses. Since the administrators said they would bless the first wave of sunlight, a mere banshee’s curse should be burnt clean.

“Whew….”

Jin Sahyuk sighed once again.

‘I held on for so long with stats barely averaging 3 points each. My patience and willpower surely increased by a hundred times.’

In this moment of relief, Jin Sahyuk remembered a certain man and clenched her teeth. Now, the time for revenge was near.

‘Just wait three months. I’ll catch up to you soon.’

—Look, the sun!
—Sun! Hey, take out your Recorder!
—Wow!

Along with an earthshaking resonance of magic power, a boisterous uproar arose. The crowd pointed at the heart of Prestige and began to shout aloud simultaneously. Jin Sahyuk also raised her head and looked toward the palace.

A brilliant orange light was rising above Medea’s palace. It was a ‘source of light’ that previously did not exist in Prestige.
Jin Sahyuk made a deep smile. The sun that slowly lit up the world touched the people below with warmth.
Tak—
At that moment, someone put his arm over Jin Sahyuk’s shoulders.

“What.”

‘Was Bell already back? What the hell was he doing?’ Jin Sahyuk furrowed her brows and turned around.

“…!”

Her heart immediately jumped in fright, and her diaphragm constricted from nervousness.

“…It’s been a while.”

Jin Sahyuk was familiar with the man’s name.
Hic.
Jin Sahyuk hiccuped unknowingly.
It was the man that appeared in her dreams the most, the son of a bitch who wouldn’t leave her mind even for a second because of the pent-up resentment and anger she had.

“You’re alive.”

It was Kim Hajin.

“….”

The person she wanted to kill the most was now standing by her.
However, Jin Sahyuk was unable to say anything.
In fact, she became drowsy and was doused in cold sweat. It was from a fundamental, instinctive fear instilled into her body.

“What’s with that expression? Smile, will ya? If someone’s watching, they’d think I came here to bully you.”

Kim Hajin spoke. Jin Sahyuk was dumbstruck. She wanted to unleash her magic power and smack him with a weapon.
However, her body refused to listen. As though it was frozen, she couldn’t even move her tongue, much less her fingers.

“You’re not gonna smile?”

A cold voice rang out.
Jin Sahyuk found herself forcefully raising the corner of her mouth and clenched her teeth.
To her, pride was more important than life. Rather than having to suffer such a humiliation, she would rather bite her tongue and commit suicide.
She creaked her head to the side and glared at the man standing next to her.

“I’m kidding, I’m kidding. Don’t glare at me like that. You’re scaring me. Oooh, I’m getting goosebumps.”

Kim Hajin smacked her shoulders. This seemingly meaningless gesture seeped into her bones. She could thoroughly feel the vast difference in their stats.

“I can’t kill you today even if I want to, so don’t be so nervous.”

Kim Hajin’s words gave the greatest humiliation to Jin Sahyuk. He was implying that he could easily kill her otherwise.

“Wow, isn’t the sun pretty?”

Hearing his idle comment, Jin Sahyuk made a wish for the first time in her life.
That Bell would come save her.

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