Chapter 208. A Strange Battle (3)


[Doused by the sunlight blessed by administrators, low-level abnormal status effects are completely cured.]
[A total of six ‘Lv.2 Banshee’s Curse’ have been cured.]
[All stats slowly recover.]
[Challenge, Sweetness After Bitterness, complete – Player who has endured the banshee’s curse the longest]
[Increases the magic power stat by 0.5 points and infuses magic power with the power of undead.]

…The artificial sun radiated a warm light and adorned the sky with blue clothes. The sunlight undulating in the sky soon descended to the earth and enveloped Jin Sahyuk’s cold body. The warmth cleansed the curse on her body and blessed her with a special reward for all her suffering.

She really did suffer painfully for months. There wasn’t any other time in her life that she had cried or been weakened so much. It made her realize that she was, in the end, human.
As such, she should certainly be happy that she was able to overcome the curse today.

However, happiness was the farthest emotion in Jin Sahyuk’s current state. Currently, she couldn’t even move her body as it refused to listen to her brain.
She felt herself wither up due to the heavy tension that made her breathless.

“….”

The sudden silence from the man made her feel as though she was walking on thin ice.
Jin Sahyuk wet her dried lips with her tongue.
‘Should I turn around? Should I?’ After debating for a long time, she finally came to a decision. She glanced to the side. Her eyes narrowed as she chased Kim Hajin’s figure.

“Wow….”

He was staring at the sun in a daze. He had a stupid, thoughtless expression as he simply observed the scenery.

In that instant, Jin Sahyuk felt her rage explode both inwardly and outwardly.

‘Am I really scared of someone like him? Just when did I get so weak?’

With the powerful rage, she forcibly moved her body. Her fingers and joints began to listen to her command. It was a good sign.

“Oi.”

Just as the tip of her finger was about to move, Kim Hajin turned and faced her.
He glared at her with his sharp, wolf-like eyes.
Her body froze once again. The best she could do now was keep her eyes on him. Even then, she wasn’t sure whether it was courage or fear that kept her from averting her gaze.

“Do you have a ‘resistance’ special stat?”

Kim Hajin asked. Jin Sahyuk didn’t answer.

“Do you, or do you not?”

“….”

“Answer?”

Kim Hajin pressed for an answer.

“You’re not going to answer me? Three, two, one—”

“…I do.”

She only found out recently, but a special stat called ‘inhumane resistance’ indeed manifested. It must have been because she refused to give up under the torture of the banshee’s curse.

“Mm, I see.”

Kim Hajin grinned, then put more strength into the arm wrapped around her shoulders. From a third-person’s point of view, they looked just like close friends.
Jin Sahyuk was disgusted by this whole situation. Even so, she didn’t resist him. She clenched her teeth, raised the magic power inside her, and muttered inwardly, ‘If you get any closer, I’ll cut out your heart….’
Then suddenly, a dry and cold voice entered her ears.

“Looks like I’ll have to kill her now.”

His blade-like voice carried a genuine killing intent. Goosebumps shot up all over Jin Sahyuk’s body. Even she was surprised by her body’s subconscious reaction. ‘Getting goosebumps’ was not an experience she had often.
Ssk—
Kim Hajin pulled out a gun from his pocket. The beautifully designed gun let out a sinister sheen as it slowly approached Jin Sahyuk’s neck.
Jin Sahyuk watched the muzzle with her eyes.
Soon, the coldness of metal touched her skin…

“…Huuk.”

She muttered a breath-stopping sound. At the same time, she was struck with a mental shock.
She remembered Kim Hajin who put a vicious curse on his arrow. Did he bring an even more brutal curse? Would she have to go through the past suffering and pain once more?
A feeling of terror rose from the depths of her heart. Jin Sahyuk fell into a panic. Her body lost its strength and leaned against Kim Hajin’s body.

“Hmm.”

On the other hand, Kim Hajin had his own worries. Jin Sahyuk didn’t seem to be thinking as she normally would. She wasn’t risking her life to kill him, most likely because of her laughably low stats and loss of confidence.

By killing her here, Kim Hajin knew he would be able to instill a powerful mental conditioning. His existence would become a ‘trauma’ for her and might cause the complete death of ‘Jin Sahyuk’.
All he needed to do was move his hand a little.
However…

[Warning! Many administrators are watching you. Today, murder is prohibited in Prestige.]
[Warning! It is recommended that you stop your act of hostility.]
[Warning! It is strongly recommended that you stop your act of hostility. Otherwise, you will be turning many administrators into your enemies!]

The system even used the phrase ‘strongly recommended’.
It seemed today wasn’t that day.
Kim Hajin let out a small sigh and put away his Desert Eagle.
The coldness of metal disappeared from Jin Sahyuk’s neck, leaving behind only the warmth of the sun.
Only then did Jin Sahyuk come to her senses and look up at him.

“I’m proud of you.”

Kim Hajin patted Jin Sahyuk’s head instead of killing her. With emotion, he ruffled her hair. It was so forceful that even Jin Sahyuk’s head began to shake.

“You’re lucky too.”

Jin Sahyuk thought blankly. She was being treated like a dog. She refused to suffer such humiliation. ‘How can such an unhandsome man…’
Rage shot up inside her. Jin Sahyuk, for the first time since their encounter, resisted fiercely.

“…Y-You!”

She shook off Kim Hajin’s hand and glared at him.

“You son of a—”

“Talk, and I’ll kill you.”

However, a single sentence from him shut her up once more.
Kim Hajin looked at her and smiled brightly.

“I’m letting you go just this one time, so don’t let this dwell in your heart.”

As soon as Kim Hajin said those words, Jin Sahyuk sensed a familiar presence.
It was Bell.
Jin Sahyuk was relieved. Kim Hajin seemed to have felt it too as he let go of Jin Sahyuk and combed her disheveled hair.

“Alright… I’m leaving now.”

He knocked her head a few times for the final bit of humiliation. Jin Sahyuk kept her mouth shut.
However, as though he found it displeasing, he turned his head and looked at her a final time.

“Don’t let me see you again.”

Hearing this, Jin Sahyuk stood blankly for a while before grinning. Now that a trustworthy ally had arrived, she was able to force herself to sneer.

“I thought about it a bit….”

Although her body still creaked from nervousness, Jin Sahyuk managed to eek out some words. She glared at the man who had become her sworn enemy and tried her best to shake off the ‘instilled fear’ inside her.

“What do you plan on doing when you see me outside the Tower?”

Hearing this, Kim Hajin stopped.
‘So he’s afraid too.’ Jin Sahyuk guessed as much and tried to feel a self-given sense of superiority. However… Kim Hajin, with only his head turned towards her, smiled chillingly.

“It’ll be the same outside the Tower.”

Although Jin Sahyuk was unable to see it, in front of Kim Hajin’s eyes were system messages that affirmed this statement.

[Unique skill, Lv.8 Clockhand of Fate activates.]
[You have met the condition to set a target as your ‘Fate’.]
—Complete: converse for more than 30 back-and-forths between yourself and a target.
[Jin Sahyuk, the ‘Refugee of a Foolish Grudge’, has been added to your ‘Fate Record’.]
[The condition changes. To set your second Fate, you must perform a different action.]

“If I see you again, you’ll die.”

Those were Kim Hajin’s last words.
Jin Sahyuk blanked for a moment.
Soon, Bell appeared and put himself between Kim Hajin and Jin Sahyuk.
Covered by Bell’s body, Jin Sahyuk was no longer able to see Kim Hajin. Bell eyed Kim Hajin for a moment before turning back to Jin Sahyuk.

“Are you okay, Sahyuk?”

Jin Sahyuk didn’t reply. Her mind and body were both burning with anger. Feeling the rage that seemed to melt her brain and scorch her heart, she vowed to herself: to make Kim Hajin regret letting her go until he coughed out blood, to deliver him the most excruciating pain and suffering.

“I swear on my clan….”

Jin Sahyuk’s voice trembled, perhaps because of overwhelming rage. Yet, she seemed to be crying as tears glistened around her eyes.

**


“Wow….”

On the other hand, on the opposite side of the same floor, Yoo Yeonha watched the rising sun. Even as someone who personally wielded magic power and watched all sorts of magic spells growing up, this scenery filled her with wonder.

The point of the tallest steeple of Medea’s palace filled with the essence of fire, soon becoming an artificial sun that rose up to the sky.
It was the kind of beauty that lay outside the realm of normal nature, a miraculous scenery that one could only watch in a stupor.

“…?”

Perhaps because she was too mesmerized by the sun, she only noticed the Player standing next to her after a while.
Yoo Yeonha turned her head sideways to the owner of the presence.

“….”

A girl’s blonde hair shone brilliantly under the sunlight. Looking at her beauty that seemed to rival elves, Yoo Yeonha was at a loss for words. The girl, Rachel, bowed to her graciously as royalty would.

“Hello.”

“…Hi.”

Yoo Yeonha nodded. They greeted each other somewhat awkwardly, but this seemingly coincidental meeting was pre-planned. Rachel had sent Yoo Yeonha a friend request along with the following message.

[Hello, Yeonha-ssi! It’s been a while >‿<! Maybe a year. I was really happy when I heard you were going to enter the Tower ٩(◕‿◕。)۶!
…(13 lines of text omitted)
…So if you have time, I’d like to show you around. Essence of the Strait and the English Royal Court guild have good relationship inside the Tower too.
…(8 lines of text omitted)
…You don’t have to feel like I’m pushing you for an answer! I won’t mind even if you say no! ʕ •ᴥ•ʔ]

It was more like a letter than a text message. In any case, it didn’t feel right to reject such a nice gesture, so Yoo Yeonha accepted Rachel’s offer.
She initially planned to bring an Essence of the Strait member to show her around, but she figured it would also be more efficient for her guild if Rachel did so instead.

“Rachel-ssi, your ID is CaptainBritain, right?”

“…Yes.”

Yoo Yeonha’s impression of Rachel was that she was a complete snowman. The light from Prestige’s new sun reflected off Rachel’s milky-white skin and blonde hair.
Rachel was fidgeting and smiled shyly when Yoo Yeonha met her eyes. It made sense why. As Rachel was quick to hear about guild politics, she must have heard that Yoo Yeonha was promoted to Essence of the Strait’s Chief Strategic Officer.

The Chief Strategic Officer position of the world’s rank 1 guild was undoubtedly powerful. If Yoo Yeonha really wanted, she had the power to collude with other guilds to drive England and the English Royal Court guild to the depths of despair.

“You don’t have to talk so formally. It’s fine if you talk like you do in your text messages.”

Yoo Yeonha projected her system’s messenger and showed the content to Rachel.

“Also, where did you learn to type those emoticons?”

“Ah….”

Rachel smiled bashfully. There were times when she couldn’t say what she wanted because of her position as England’s princess. She was unfamiliar with addressing people with great authority like Yoo Yeonha.

“It’s been a while since we last met, so it’s a… bit awkward.”

Rachel rarely talked if she didn’t need to, and when she did, she kept it short and simple. Of course, when she was really grateful, she pressed her keyboard secretly.

“…Um, so, how are you going to help me exactly?”

“Ah, I’ll explain how to get stronger in detail….”

Rachel stopped in the middle of her speech and looked around. Didn’t Yoo Yeonha say she came with ‘that person’?

“Duchess Ah Hae-In went back. She said ‘receiving the sunlight’s blessing’ was enough.”

Ah Hae-In had a 100-day training routine already prepared. She should be in the middle of meditating inside Essence of the Strait’s hideout.

“Ah, I see.”

“Yes.”

“Then first, we should go to the various ‘hunting grounds’ on the 3rd floor. Erm, let, let’s go…?”

Rachel tried casual speech carefully.
Yoo Yeonha told her to do so, and they were technically former academy classmates. Rachel wanted to shorten the distance between them, especially considering the potential benefits from it.
Although her relationship with Kim Youngjin was fine, Yoo Yeonha would clearly be the new head of Essence of the Strait’s operations.

“….”

However, Yoo Yeonha didn’t reply, and Rachel dejectedly added again politely.

“Shall we go to the hunting grounds?”

Even so, Yoo Yeonha remained silent. It wasn’t because of the way Rachel was talking.
It was because Yoo Yeonha smelled a familiar scent from Rachel.
As such, Yoo Yeonha furrowed her brows and stared at Rachel intently. This, of course, made her flinch.

“O-Or would you want to go somewhere else? I’d be honored to guide you wherever….”

‘Did she really dislike my casual tone?’ Rachel talked even more respectfully, but Yoo Yeonha was fully focused on figuring out the identity of this smell. In the next moment, Yoo Yeonha approached Rachel and sniffed her.
Then… electricity struck her head.

“You….”

Yoo Yeonha sniffed Rachel one more time as a confirmation. She became certain. Rachel’s body was practically doused in this smell.
Yoo Yeonha raised her head blankly and stared at Rachel.
She knew exactly where this smell came from.
There was no way she wouldn’t.
After all, it was the same smell that was soaked in her bed that wouldn’t disappear no matter how many times she washed it.
Right, it was ‘Kim Hajin’s smell’.

**

[3F, Prestige]

10 days later.
After the rise of the artificial sun, the price of land in Prestige skyrocketed. However, Players couldn’t buy any land even if they had the money. It was because most of Prestige’s land already belonged to another Player.

Of course, that Player was me, Kim Hajin.
Almost 50% of all available land in Prestige was mine. But because Henry and Kiri used it to form mutually beneficial relationships with NPCs, Prestige’s citizens didn’t have any complaints even at the monopoly of wealth I had.

“How are things going?”

I was currently in Prestige’s Riry Shop, visiting Henry and Kiri for the first time in a while.
I asked the two smart kids about Prestige’s state of affairs. I was worried that Medea might be scheming to take away my land.

“It’s going gre~at! We’re both really happy~”

“Oh! Our daddy also came back recently!!”

I widened my eyes hearing Kiri’s words.

“Really?”

“Yes! Oppa’s friend rescued him and brought him back!”

“Cheok Jungyeong did~? That’s great.”

I smiled and patted their heads. As the NPCs Cheok Jungyeong and I saved all had useful skills in construction, law, administration, education, and magic, Prestige was advancing at a rapid pace.
But Kiri’s happy smile soon faded, and she asked with a worried expression.

“Anyways, I heard about Oppa’s upcoming battle.”

“Hm? Oh, the one with Black Lotus. It’s tomorrow.”

It would be dawn, to be exact. That was when Crevon was least active due to the morning Fog of Darkness covering Crevon. Although I planned for this show to be flawless, it was still better to have fewer eyes watching if possible.

“Anyways, how are the goblins doing?”

“They’re downstairs~ Follow me. We expanded our basement a lot!”

Henry and Kiri pulled my hand and led me downstairs. In Riry Shop’s basement, six goblins were busy at work. Weren’t there three initially?

“They multiplied?”

“Yes. Master reached the 8th floor, right?”

“Yeah.”

“It looks like the stone tablet leveled up accordingly. It might have also been because of the hard work the goblins put in.”

“I see.”

I examined the goblins.

[Lv.5 Craftsman Goblin]
[He is in a state of increased efficiency due to being in a suitable environment.]
[He is very satisfied with his residential area. His happiness level is 99%.]
[He will level up soon.]

“Residential area? This place is a residential area?”

“Ah, yes, I asked Kedrick Oppa to separate the basement into different rooms. This is the potion room.”

Kiri opened the room next door. A sign that said [Playroom] was written above it.
I peeked inside the room. A pool table, ping-pong table, foosball table… it had all sorts of game tables inside. There was also another room with the sign [Bedroom] on it.

“Hm? What are they?”

I caught sight of two goblins playing cards in the playroom. They had huge bodies unlike the goblins in the potion room.

“There are actually eight goblins?”

“Yes, those two are in charge of the shop’s security. They play around during the day when the city’s guards are patrolling the area, then work at night.”

They had the same build as an adult male and were also well-equipped. It seemed Henry and Kiri provided them with proper tools for their work.

“I see. Well, looks like there’s nothing I need to worry about. Good job.”

I smiled and hugged Kiri and Henry. The two starving kids I found had grown up so much. They were quite heavy now, too.

“Then I’ll be off.”

“Okay~”

“Stay safe!”

“Don’t worry.”

I left the shop with a smile. I headed to the crystal stele in the center of Prestige and arrived on the 8th floor after using it.

[8-3F, Crevon, the final crystal stele on the eastern end]

Aileen and Jin Seyeon were waiting for me there. Jin Seyeon was holding a Recorder, and Aileen just had a face of mixed feelings.

“Oh, he’s here.”

“Hello.”

Jin Seyeon asked for my plan as soon as I arrived. I gave a simple explanation.

“Just bait him into shooting his warning arrow. Black Lotus always shoots a harmless wooden arrow first. There will be a brief opening when he attacks and that’s when I’ll shoot him down.”

“Oh, we were thinking of doing the same thing when we first talked to you. After all, no matter how fast his reaction time is, there has to be an opening if we aim for the moment he shoots his warning arrow.”

I nodded hearing Jin Seyeon’s intimidating words. As I thought, I might have been in trouble if I didn’t take this role. I might have even died if I was unlucky.

“But can we really take the reward for reaching the 9th floor first? We can wait for you if you want.”

Jin Seyeon asked, feeling a bit sorry.

“No, it’s fine. I don’t mind at all.”

The reward for being the first one to enter the 9th floor was the right to fight the 9th floor’s calamities first. In other words, they would be given the ‘qualification to hunt calamities’, which wasn’t something I wanted for now.

“Oh, also, take this.”

“…What’s this?”

I gave them several summoning scrolls. These scrolls could be torn in an emergency to teleport the user to a safe location within a 10km radius.
The ‘emergency waiting room teleportation ticket’ served a similar purpose, but the problem was that they would return to the same place when exiting their waiting rooms. In other words, the waiting room teleportation ticket didn’t help when one was surrounded.

“Use it if you’re in danger.”

Aileen and Jin Seyeon took the scrolls without saying much. For the record, these scrolls were worth 3000TP each.

“Such precious scrolls… oh, did you manage to pinpoint Black Lotus’ location?”

Jin Seyeon asked as she carefully put the scrolls in her pocket.

“Yes, I’ve spent the past month looking for the place Black Lotus shot from and the place I would use to snipe him.”

Jin Seyeon offered a good excuse, so I rolled with it. Jin Seyeon nodded without suspecting me at all.

“Oh right, the Atalos Royal Family promised a great reward if Hajin-ssi manages to take down Black Lotus.”

“…They did?”

“Yes, they came to us first. They seemed to be curious about the higher floors. This is also why I brought a Recorder.”

“I see. That’s great.”

I didn’t have a reason to say no.
I took out the Desert Eagle and fused it with Aether.
Creak— Creak—
A strange, mechanical sound rang out as the gun changed its form. In just two seconds, the Desert Eagle became an enormous monster.

“Let’s go.”

I said as I put the anti-material sniper rifle on my shoulder.

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