A voice flowed into my groggy consciousness. My eyes shot open, hearing the word I wasn’t quite ready to hear.
The current time was 5:45 a.m.
I was lying on the couch of the train’s special compartment, sharing my senses with Spartan. This was to keep a close eye on anything important happening inside the train.
—Yes, it seems he’s gone through the first awakening.
—Hm… so we finally get to see a devil with our own eyes. It’s earlier than I thought.
Kim Hakpyo and his loyal subordinate, Silasen, were talking.
The topic of their conversation was… a devil.
I bit my lips.
If the ‘humanoid monster’ was the third phase of the story, the ‘advent of the devils’ and ‘Earth’s Demon Realm transformation’ was the fourth and final phase. Judging from Kim Hakpyo’s remark, it seemed even the final phase was pushed closer.
—Do we have a place prepared?
—Yes, he is staying inside a temple we built. But he’s unable to leave it for now. By the looks of it, he’ll need more time to overcome the world’s rejective force.
Silasen answered as he typed a message in the air. Using Muninn’s eyes, I peeked at it.
It was likely the coordinates of the temple.
—What do you plan to do?
—Why even ask? I plan on simply following the Lord’s orders.
Kim Hakpyo leaned back on his chair. That was the end of the meaningful conversation, and I cut my senses with Spartan.
I fell in thought as I swallowed a sigh.
The first devil had already manifested, and I knew its location.
What I had to do was clear.
Kill it with the God-slaying Misteltein Bullet.
But there was one thing that worried me. Would just a single bullet be enough to kill him?
Even though the Desert Eagle was extremely powerful, especially with all the upgrades its received, the opponent was a devil, and the number of bullets I could use was limited.
…After thinking for a bit, I took out the Book of Truth.
[If the physical functions of Rank 50th Devil ‘Plucas’ falls under 15%, the God-slaying Bullet will be able to extinguish him. This percentage rises by 5% per 1 streak of Stigma used on the bullet.]
This was what the Book of Truth said. At my full power, I would need Plucas’ physical functions to fall below 35% to kill it. Even if I used Overclock, converting my life force into Stigma, it would still have to fall below 50%.
It was understandable.
A devil wasn’t an existence that could be extinguished so easily. To devils, the concepts of ‘death’ and ‘being extinguished’ were separate. A dead devil could always resurrect. To completely extinguish its existence, a very special methodology or Kim Suho was needed.
That meant that a helper was needed. Kim Suho and Boss were the first ones to pop up in my mind. However, the devils couldn’t find out about Kim Suho yet, as they would undoubtedly try to kill humans who could threaten them first.
I had to wait until Kim Suho got stronger.
But I couldn’t ask Boss either. Her magic power’s attribute was darkness, an ill-suited match for fighting devils.
Mulling over my options, one individual popped up in my head. Not only was he individually powerful enough to suppress a devil, he was also well-suited to fight against one.
Even if he caught a devil’s attention, he had the ability to escape safely.
He was Chae Joochul.
Currently, I had a clear way to communicate with him. Through my Truth Agency. Because of the devil that had descended in Chae Jinyoon’s body, Chae Joochul would surely express interest in this matter.
If I could get Chae Joochul to make a move….
At that moment, the train’s alarm notified its passengers that it was 6 p.m., and the train captain’s cheerful voice rang out loudly.
—Has everyone had fun? In 9 hours, we will arrive on the 24th floor! The 24th floor is a ve~ry big desert!
The 22nd and 23rd floors were part of a deep ocean, while the 24th floor was a desert as big as the Sahara Desert.
—It is full of tricky monsters of death, like scorpions, mummies, guards, Anubis, Sphinx, etc., but it also has amazing opportunities for you Players! If you find a ‘Desert Oasis’, you will be given a hefty reward!
I got up and stretched.
The desert floor was a floor where Sannuri could shine. Of course, most horses would be useless in a desert, but Sannuri wasn’t a normal horse at all.
I knew how to locate oases, and Sannuri could take me there. Getting the 24th floor’s rewards should be a piece of cake.
At that moment, the door to my bedroom opened, and Jain walked in.
Jain seemed to have finished taking a bath, as she hummed and sat down on the couch with slightly wet hair.
“Did you hear the 24th floor’s explanation just now~?”
“Yes, it’s a desert.”
“Right~? I wonder what the rewards are~”
Jain murmured quietly, showing interest. But since she detested the heat, she probably wouldn’t leave the train.
“It’s probably another skillbook. An ultimate skillbook, most likely.”
“Mm~ I already have one, so I guess don’t need to go out~”
I grinned. It was just as I expected.
“You’re going, right~?”
“Of course, I’ll need to fill out my ultimate skill slot.”
It was time for me to learn my ultimate skill.
“Oh right, did Boss finish learning all her skills?”
“Nope~ You know, Boss has trouble making decisions. You know Phiunel, right?”
“That old man gave everything he owned to Boss, but she’s still wondering what to learn.”
It seemed I would need to help her pick out her skills.
Jain suddenly clapped her hands together and shot up.
“Hajin, are you going to continue your mercenary work once you leave the Tower~?”
“Yep, you got several licenses to kill, it would be a shame to waste them~”
To be precise, they were licenses to kill Djinns. But as part of the license, illegal activities carried out during the process of killing Djinns were accepted, as long as they were reasonable.
“I’m not sure.”
I fell in thought. I only killed Djinns because I received requests. It wasn’t out of a sense of duty or anything like that. Doing so didn’t make the story progress any smoother either. The Djinns I killed were mere ‘extras’ that wouldn’t stand in the way of the main plot.
But the more I thought about it….
“It doesn’t sound bad.”
It didn’t sound like a bad idea.
Why didn’t I think about it until now?
I looked at the item in my inventory.
Directory and the Book of Truth. With these two books’ abilities, I could do all sorts of wonderful things.
First, I could kill off Djinns who would play an important role in the future before anything happened.
Now, I had confidence. That a single magic bullet could kill even executive-ranked Djinns.
Second, I could kill of humans who would become hindrances to future plans. For example, I could assassinate the corrupt members of the National Assembly or corrupt executives of the Hero Association. Of course, this wouldn’t be done under Fenrir’s identity but under Black Lotus’ identity. If I used a gun to kill someone, even an ordinary child would suspect it was me.
“…I’ll continue killing Djinns.”
At this point, killing someone with my gun or bow didn’t bother me. Like a machine without feelings, I carried out my murders calmly and coldly.
“But why are you asking all of a sudden?”
“Hm? Oh, it’s nothing much.”
Jain suddenly put on a serious expression.
“But it’s about time that we Chaemeleon Troupe start getting serious.”
The original goal of the Chameleon Troupe. Although a few settings had been added to make things complicated, its core mission didn’t change.
“It’s time to steal Pandemonium’s throne.”
Jain talked about the original goal I set for the group.
“Yep. We, as humans, will rule over Pandemonium. Doesn’t that sound fun?”
“…Will that be possible?”
“Why not? Djinns will naturally submit to those that are stronger than them…”
Jain muttered while making a dangerous smile.
And at that moment, I received a message on my smartwatch.
—Jin Sahyuk escaped.
It was from GenphaGo.
—Someone helped her. We immediately issued a warrant for her arrest, but she seemed to have escaped to the 8th floor. Should we chase after her using ‘Floor Teleportation’?
“No, it’s fine.”
Not only did Floor Teleportation use 100,000TP each time, my original goal was already achieved.
“Just prevent her from going beyond the 15th floor.”
Jin Sahyuk should now give up on climbing the Tower, since going any further would be impossible without passing through the 15th floor.
That was enough.
“Good work, GenphaGo.”
[8-3F, a famous restaurant in Crevon]
As soon as she escaped with Bell and Rumi’s help, Jin Sahyuk ran straight to Crevon’s restaurant. Having gotten skinnier from being detained for so long, she sucked in food like a vacuum cleaner. Steak, pork chops, fried rice, spaghetti… they were godly dishes compared to the tasteless porridge she was forced to eat.
After emptying 13 dishes in just 20 minutes, she leaned against the back of her chair. She rubbed her stomach in happiness, then slammed her fist down on the table when she remembered the humiliating prison life she suffered.
“Why does that guy hate me so much?”
Jin Sahyuk knew Kim Hajin was behind the arrest. That was what Bell said. When she found out the Kim Hajin was also the owner of the space vessel, she almost fainted on the spot.
“You picked a fight with him first.”
She didn’t have anything to say to that. Although it happened a long time ago, she was the one who started it, as he said.
Feeling wronged, Jin Sahyuk chugged a glass of water down her throat.
“So, what’s your plan from now on? Are you going to find Kim Hajin and try to fight him again?” Bell asked.
Jin Sahyuk shuddered the moment she heard this. Kim Hajin objectively stood at the top of the Tower. Not only was he strong, but he also had the authority to order NPCs and even administrators. Inside the Tower, he was like a king. As such, fighting him inside the Tower was out of the question.
“…Not inside the Tower.” Jin Sahyuk murmured with a thin, quiet voice.
“So you’re going to fight him outside?” Bell asked in a teasing tone.
Jin Sahyuk glared at Bell. Her previous defeat outside the Tower became a trauma that she had yet to overcome. She thought it would weaken over time, but it had only gotten worse recently. She often had nightmares, and her body trembled at the mere thought of him.
Bell chuckled at Jin Sahyuk’s cursing. Hearing this, Jin Sahyuk shouted obstinately.
“Once, once I get stronger… I’ll f-fight him again. So d-don’t annoy me.”
Kim Hajin was currently busy climbing the Tower. While he was gone, Jin Sahyuk planned to work hard in Crevon to earn TP, then strengthen her unique Trait through the Upgrade Center.
“With your current mindset, I don’t think you can beat him no matter how strong you become. Look, you’re even stuttering.”
Jin Sahyuk glared at Bell with eyes full of resentment.
“Think about it as punishment for all the people you killed.”
However, the words that followed were something even Jin Sahyuk found hard to ignore. She forced herself to smile and spat out.
“If this is my punishment for things I’ve done, then shouldn’t you die soon?”
Hearing this, Bell only smiled.
“I told you, you’ll be the one who kills me. I raised you knowing that. My punishment is raising the person who will kill me.”
“…Like you raised me.”
Bell laughed. Then suddenly, he turned his gaze behind Jin Sahyuk. His expression instantly stiffened. His serious and scared expression caused Jin Sahyuk to tilt her head.
“What crap are you pulling now—”
“Kim Hajin, why are you here?”
Immediately, Jin Sahyuk’s body froze. Her stomach churned, and cold sweat appeared on her back, and her politely cusped hands trembled.
Haa, haa, haa…. Fear engraved deep in her heart rose up, making it hard to breathe. Jin Sahyuk felt her vision blur and her head spin.
“Bell-ssi, geez. He’s just kidding, Sahyuk. There’s no one behind you.”
Rumi let Jin Sahyuk know that Bell was kidding, but it was too late.
Jin Sahyuk vomited out everything she had just eaten. Even Bell was surprised by her sudden puking.
Uweek, uweek, uweeek….
After clearing her stomach in one go, Jin Sahyuk gave Bell the most ferocious glare possible. Seeing the tears and snot flowing down from her face, Bell was amazed.
“…You son of a bitch.”
“Uh, sorry, I didn’t know it was this bad.”
A waiter quickly arrived with cleaning tools, but Bell unleashed his magic power first and burnt up Jin Sahyuk’s vomit.
“I didn’t think you would be this scared… Want me to order you more food?”
“Screw off, bastard. I don’t fucking need it. You motherfucking piece of shit…”
Jin Sahyuk spat out all the curse words she knew. Bell listened through it all with a smile, then when Jin Sahyuk was mostly appeased, he suddenly raised his finger.
“Sh, my ass! Try that again, and I’ll really fucking kill you.”
“Alright, alright, I won’t do it again. I promise.”
Bell promised Jin Sahyuk. He wanted to pinky promise, but he kept the thought to himself as his finger would likely end up getting chopped off.
“…Fucker, bastard, son of a bitch, you crazy motherfucker.”
Jin Sahyuk crossed her arms and grumbled. Though, in a way, it looked more like she was sobbing.
Bell sighed as he watched Jin Sahyuk.
“From now on, don’t get angry and don’t get scared. Just stay low and continue to grow. I promised, right? That my Gift is yours.”
I’ll give my Gift to you. Demonstrating his Gift, Bell had said these words to entice Jin Sahyuk. This was the only reason Jin Sahyuk decided to follow him.
“So just wait.”
There was only one way for him to pass on his Gift to her.
“Until you can kill me.”
At that moment, the restaurant door opened, and a new customer walked in. Bell looked up with a smile, but his expression quickly turned cold.
“Hah, you think I’d fall for that again—”
Bell quickly blocked Jin Sahyuk’s mouth. However, it seemed to have been too late as Bell frowned. The same went for Rumi, who was sitting next to him.
It was then that Jin Sahyuk finally understood the situation.
It’s real this time. Not even Bell would pull the same trick twice in a row.
Bell had even begun to activate Mass Teleport. His serious attitude caused Jin Sahyuk’s body to stiffen.
Hearing his serious voice, Jin Sahyuk nodded faintly.
Bell looked into her eyes and continued.
“I’m kidding this time too.”
Rumi burst out laughing.
That was the nail in the coffin.
Steam began to rise up from Jin Sahyuk’s pale face.
“You two pieces of shits—!”
…Soon, Jin Sahyuk leapt forward like a savage beast.
The train stopped on the 24th floor. There were still over a hundred people left in the train. As the train would stay for a week, Jain, Boss, Cheok Jungyeong, and Jin Yohan returned to Earth. Meanwhile, I set out to look at the desert floor.
I rode on Sannuri for the first time in a while. After galloping through the field of sand for a bit, I took out the Book of Truth.
The question I wanted to ask was simple: was there an oasis within 10km of my location?
[There is no oasis within 10km of your location.]
“Hm, Nuri, let’s keep going.”
After that, I just repeated the same thing. Every 10km, I stopped, asked the Book of Truth, then continued if an oasis wasn’t found.
After about 50 kilometers…
[An oasis exists within 10km of your location.]
“There we go.”
With my luck, finding an oasis wasn’t too difficult. I only spent 1.5 streaks of Stigma as well.
I planned to head over to the oasis, when, suddenly, I felt the presences of people behind me. They were very familiar presences as well.
I turned around. There, I saw a man wearing a turban. His silhouette was all too familiar, and his face was even more familiar.
He was Kim Suho, my novel’s main character.
Kim Suho also noticed me and widened his eyes. Then, he raised his arm and waved it cheerfully.
He ran up while shouting.
I hopped down from Sannuri and waited for him. With his speed, he reached me in less than a minute. He then put his hand forward with a bashful smile.
“It’s been so long, Hajin.”
It was perfect meeting him here since I had to give him something.
“Suho, I have a present for you….”
“Hajin, this is for you….”
But Kim Suho seemed to have thought the same thing as he took something out from his pocket.
We paused momentarily and looked at each other. Then, we laughed.
I gave my present first.
“Take this first.”
“A card that’s perfect for you.”
“Ah, you bought a few cards on the 21st floor, too?”
Kim Suho accepted my card without much thought. But when he saw the card, his eyebrows twitched, and he put on a flustered expression.
“8, 8-star? H-Hajin, this is an 8-star card. I think you took out the wrong one.”
“No, that’s the right one. It’s for a sword. Plus, it’s light-attribute. It’s practically made for you.”
As I said that, I put my hand out.
“Now give me yours. You have a card for me too, right?”
“Huh? Oh, um, yeah but….”
Kim Suho hid the card he took out behind his back. I asked with a faint smile on my face.
“What are you doing?”
“Uh, it’s just that… there’s too big of a difference with what you gave me….”
“It’s fine so let me see it.”
When I reached forward, he took a few steps back. Judging by his flushed face, it seemed he was extremely embarrassed.
“Don’t be embarrassed and give it here.”
I’m not embarrassed. I’m just sorry… Kim Suho murmured quietly as he handed me his card.
[Echo of Silence] [Active Card] [6-star]
○Applies the following effects on sharpshooting weapons.
●Silent Shot – Your weapon produces no sound on firing.
●Silence – Magic power of the sniped target becomes partially sealed.
“…H-How is it?”
Kim Suho asked nervously. I gave him a simple smile.
“Great. It’s perfect for me.”
Hearing that, Kim Suho’s tense face finally loosened.
It was then.
A beam of light suddenly descended from the sky.
Kim Suho and I quickly raised our weapons at the unexpected teleportation skill. However, we tilted our heads seeing the person who just appeared.
Kim Suho muttered dumbfoundedly. The woman who suddenly arrived wasn’t an enemy. It was just Jin Seyeon.
Jin Seyeon gave Kim Suho a quick greeting before turning towards me. Then, she stared at my face fixedly as though I was hiding something underneath. After a brief moment, she held out her hand.
“I’m your fan.”
I was taken aback by her last words. My fan?
Jin Seyeon smiled, then showed me her nickname and the ‘community group’ she was a part of.
[JinSeyeon’sArrow] – Club Fenrir Member #3
“…Club Fenrir? What’s this?”
“It’s something like a fan club. A stylish, unique gunman has captured my heart.”
I felt a strange sense of incongruity from her words.
What Jin Seyeon was telling me were half-truths and half-lies. But I didn’t know which parts were truths and which parts were falsehoods.
I hid my suspicion and asked casually.
“…Who’s the #1 fan?”
“Ah, it’s a Player by the name ‘CaptainBritain’. Do you know who that is?”
As I obviously knew who that was, I answered with an awkward cough.