Chapter 239. Black Lotus (1)


Inside the Colosseum filled with excitement and madness, Jin Seyeon stared at the man in front of her. His face was completely veiled, but Jin Seyeon thought to see through his disguise with her eyes.

However, even her eyes were incapable of seeing through him. Black Lotus’ mask easily deflected the Divine Archer’s eyes.

—The victor shall survive, and the defeated shall die! Enjoy the humans’ fight to the death!

A demon’s voice rang out loudly.

Jin Seyeon raised [Lv.7 Munjong’s Bow], the artifact she obtained while climbing the Tower. She aimed the bow at the man standing in front of her.

Black Lotus.
He was a member of the Chameleon Troupe, which was deeply involved in her parents’ death.

The resentment pent up inside her couldn’t be forgotten, and the ember of hatred sparked inside her once again.

—Fight!

However, in front of the lives of her comrades, her resentment became a trifling matter.

—Fight, human gladiators!

Jin Seyeon regained her composure. Her opponent also raised his bow. They didn’t have the leisure to talk things out. Shining magic power condensed around the Divine Archer’s bowstring, and Black Lotus nocked an arrow to his bow.

Facing the upcoming confrontation of two sharpshooters, Jin Seyeon was worried that she and Black Lotus wouldn’t be able to satisfy the demons’ expectation.

Although the audience was cheering and filled with excitement, a battle between two sharpshooters was nothing exciting.
It was because the fight was always determined by one arrow.

Sharpshooters couldn’t attack if they only dodged and couldn’t dodge if they only attacked.
As such, sharpshooters determined the outcome of their battle with a single arrow, carrying all of their magic power.
There were no fancy maneuvers, or entangling magic power vying for supremacy like in manhwas.

In a split second, two arrows would make contact, one would crumble, and the surviving arrow would crush its enemy with its owner’s killing intent.

Kiiik—

Jin Seyeon pulled the bowstring. Her magic power gnawed on the bowstring and compressed down into a more destructive form. The materialized magic arrow caused a fierce wind pressure to erupt, sucking in the excitement and cheers of the audience in the Colosseum.

Then, as she was getting ready to fire her arrow inside the raging storm of magic power…

—Don’t think about winning.

A clear voice rang out in her head.

“…?”

Jin Seyeon’s eyes widened.

A technique to deliver one’s thoughts to someone else’s mind, Mental Transmission.
Of the numerous techniques Heroes used with magic power, Mental Transmission was among the most difficult. As most didn’t want to put in the effort, or rather spend the effort doing other forms of training, there weren’t many who could perform this feat.

However, Black Lotus’ Mental Transmission was flawless. There wasn’t even the slightest noise that hindered his message, and it rang out inside her smoothly and calmingly. Even as a Master-rank Hero, this was the first time Jin Seyeon had experienced such a clean Mental Transmission.

—If you want to save your comrades, let go of that bowstring.

Black Lotus’ message continued.
He already knew the situation her comrades were in.

Jin Seyeon’s hands shook for a moment. However, she quickly focused again.

To believe or not to believe. This wasn’t the question Jin Seyeon was asking. She simply didn’t want to use her comrades’ lives as bargaining chips to Black Lotus’ gamble.

—Don’t you want to save them?

Jin Seyeon tried to use her magic power to cut off Black Lotus’ Mental Transmission.
However, she couldn’t.
‘What kind of a monster is he?’ Jin Seyeon laughed inwardly, feeling the overwhelming difference in their magic power’s state of existence.

—I will say this one last time. If you want to save your comrades, let go of that bowstring.

Black Lotus’ words rang out inside her clear mind. Even so, Jin Seyeon continued to perfect her magic arrow. A brilliant light shone from her bow.

—Is that a luminous-attribute arrow?

A dry, emotionless voice rang out.

—A foolish choice.

With a sneer, Black Lotus also unleashed his magic power, coming together like water and forming what looked like a harpoon.

—It would have been better to use null-attribute.

“Stop talking—!”

I will not let myself be shaken up by you! Jin Seyeon shouted powerfully and let go of her bowstring.

Pzzzzt….

White sparks crackled as her arrow flew forward.
The current of light set the earth ablaze and melted the atmosphere.
As the white light radiating from the arrow captivated the audience’ heart…

“Eh…?”

Jin Seyeon understood what Black Lotus meant.

Light did not lose to darkness.
No fire could incinerate it, and no frost could freeze it.
It could only be devoured by greater ‘light’.

Jin Seyeon saw the brilliant torrent of light clashing against her arrow. She couldn’t help but laugh. Was this what it felt like to be a firefly in front of the sun?

A light-attribute magic power was coming out of Black Lotus’ arrow. The white-colored harpoon he shot out extinguished her arrow.

“…Ha.”

Her luminous-attribute arrow crumbled, and Black Lotus’ arrow continued to fly towards her. Jin Seyeon witnessed her defeat clearly.

Soon— a huge explosion erupted.
Black Lotus’ light exploded in front of Jin Seyeon.
Swept away, Jin Seyeon tumbled multiple times on the ground. However, she didn’t feel much pain. It was as though her body was under anesthesia.
Was this because of his light-attribute attack?

—Don’t worry. You won’t die…

As her consciousness started to fade, Black Lotus’ voice rang out once again.

—You’ll only fall asleep for a moment.

Tak, tak. The sound of his footsteps reverberated in her groggy mind.

“It’s far from true death.”

This time, he spoke personally, not using Mental Transmission.

“Sleep tight.”

With those final words, Jin Seyeon’s consciousness was cut off.

**


“…Whew.”

After confirming that Jin Seyeon’s eyes had closed completely, I sighed. Because I used four streaks of Stigma at once and even applied a complex property like ‘suspended animation’, my body was sore all over.

“I won at least.”

With this, I proved my theory. That not even Jin Seyeon’s magic arrow could defeat Athena’s Lv.11 Moonlight Arrow. Since she picked a fight with luminous-attribute, the result was obvious.

“Great fight, human dog.”

The demon prison guard walked up to me. The three-eyed guard patted my back as he praised me.

“Congrats on your first victory. Is there anything you want?”

I glanced at the demons’ eyes. His black, white, and red eyes were all curved into a smile. Wondering which one to face, I pointed at Jin Seyeon’s body.

“…This corpse.”

“Hm?”

“Give me this corpse.”

“…The corpse?”

I nodded. A hint of suspicion surfaced on the prison guard’s face. He looked back and forth between me and Jin Seyeon while radiating demonic energy.

Crack—
A black blade of demonic energy pierced Jin Seyeon’s stomach.

“….”

However, she didn’t react whatsoever. It wasn’t surprising since I put her into a state of suspended animation through Stigma’s magic power.

The prison guard said, “I can’t give you the corpse. All corpse will be carried to the morgue.”

“Then let me carry her there.”

“Hm… fine.”

The prison guard didn’t say no. I picked up Jin Seyeon and put her on my shoulder.

—Kueeek!
—Kuhahaha, amazing! That was great!

Although the fight ended rather quick, demons seemed to have enjoyed it quite a lot.

I could understand why they were so thrilled. Two sources of light, which were fatal to them, had clashed. In human standards, it would have seemed like a bloody brawl.

–I remembered your name! I’ll come see you again next time!
—Uhahaha! Fun, that was fun!

I left the Colosseum following the prison guard and arrived at the underground morgue.

“Huhu…”

The prison guard looked at me and gave a lustful smile.

“I’ll let you borrow the corpse for one day only.”

“…What?”

I felt like I understood what this prison guard was thinking about. What was an unacceptable act to humans seemed like a normal fetish to demons.

“You can leave now.”

“Alright, alright, I’ll leave. Take your time.”

I held myself back from frowning in disgust as I let the guard go. He seemed to think he was being considerate as he even locked the door on his way out. Well, I had to thank him for that.

“….”

After glancing through the door and checking that he was gone, I quickly took out a potion. Jin Seyeon was still bleeding from her stomach. I poured the potion on her injury. Tzzzt— White water vapor rose up as her wound closed.

It was then.

“…HOT!”

An unbearable heat spread from my wrist. I quickly glanced down and saw that my smartwatch was on fire.

“W-W-What!?”

I tried to put the fire out. But immediately afterwards, a sharp pain struck my upper arm. It was the kind of uncomfortable pain like swirling an iron nail inside your body.

“Shit, this….”

I was familiar with this pain. Soon, a series of messages popped up in my retina.

[A streak of Stigma will be added.]
[It becomes easier to use Stigma diversely.]
[You can now use ‘Setting Intervention’ and ‘Information Reading’ without a medium.]
[You can now…]

They were good news. The problem was with the time and place.

“Uhuuuak!”

The pain that started in my upper arm traveled through my brain.
An unexpected cry came out of my mouth, and I couldn’t bear the pain any longer.

I collapsed, holding onto my arm.

**


On the other hand, in a building Chameleon Troupe took as their main base.

“Our wittle Boss~ Was it that hard~? Your skin’s gotten all dry~”

Jain acted cute while holding onto Boss’ cheeks. Boss glared at her with narrowed eyes.

“I have many ways of killing you, Jain.”

It was a direct warning. The coldness in her voice caused a jolt of electricity to run down Jain’s back. Jain quickly let go and let out a dry cough.

“…Plus, it wasn’t that hard.”

Boss added bashfully.
Of course, she worried a lot unlike what she was saying. Kim Hajin, who was lying in bed, had suddenly disappeared, only to be replaced by a strange woman.

“Right~? I was the one who had it hard. I almost died trying to stop you~”

It was Jain who stopped Boss from shooting blasts of magic power at the woman. It was because she knew who the woman was.

While Jain was stopping Boss, the woman got up and quickly ran away. Until Kim Hajin’s ‘letter’ was discovered, Boss was ready to destroy the entire world to find out what happened.

“Hajin always knows what he’s doing, so don’t worry about him too much. Rather than that, we should focus on getting revenge~ We can't let the insect who killed Hajin live, right~?”

Boss nodded at Jain’s words.

“Of course.”

“…Oh right, is Hajin okay? I heard from the Tower that dying had a pretty huge aftereffect.”

“….”

Boss didn’t answer Jain’s question.
Kim Hajin had not mentioned anything about his death. He didn’t seem to want to think about the moment he died. As someone who has stayed with Kim Hajin for a long time, that was what Boss concluded.

That was the kind of person Kim Hajin was. He didn’t like to think about things he regretted or things that made him sad. He didn’t like to be pained by remembering them.
As such, he hated talking about his feelings.
No, it wasn’t that he hated it. He acted like it wasn’t allowed.

Boss guessed that it was because of what she had done in the past. Because he would have no choice but to hate her if he dug up the past….

“Who’s worried about who~”

Jain’s cold words cut off Boss’ thoughts.

“Snap out of it, Boss. You’ve gotten strange lately.”

“Kuhum.”

Boss let out a dry cough.

“Anyways, what information do we have on that insect? It was incredibly strong.”

“Droon is collecting information right now, but there isn’t much for now~ …Oh right! Didn’t you say you had their arm!?”

“Yeah.”

“Perfect~ If we have a part of its body, we can use it to curse them.”

Boss’ eyes widened. Cursing. Although she hadn’t thought about it, it was indeed a good method.

“That sounds good.”

“Right~?”

Boss clapped her hands together, then remembered the suspicious woman who she met two days ago.

“By the way, what happened to that girl?”

“…Mm~ Girl~?”

“The woman who barged into the building last time.”

“Ah~ her~?”

Jain did her best to hide the information about Jin Sahyuk. It was because Bell said she was someone who would kill him one day.
Bell never lied. As Jain didn’t want Boss to get hurt, she wanted Jin Sahyuk to kill Bell, if possible.

“I just chased her off. I found out that she and Hajin have a bad relationship.”

“Bad relationship?”

“Yep~ Hajin already killed her twice.”

“…Kim Hajin did?”

‘If such a kind kid killed her twice, how evil must she be?’ Boss thought to herself. Then, she suddenly stiffened. Seeing this, Jain also stared at her with stiff eyes.

Gulp. Jain swallowed hard.

“….”

“W-What? What is it~?”

Seeing that Boss was silent for a long time, Jain asked. However, Boss only shook her head.

“No, it’s nothing. That can’t be it.”

“No, tell me~”

Boss glanced at Jain.

“…S-She can’t be his ex, right?”

Ex… Ex-girlfriend. When she heard this, Jain laughed in vain. Boss quickly retorted.

“I, I told you it’s nothing. I think I’ve been reading too many novels recently.”

“…Eh? Ah, no~ I wouldn’t be surprised if he had one. That girl really might have been his ex.”

Jain liked where this was headed. As someone who liked to tease Boss, she began to support her ‘romantic story theory’.

**


[27F, Colosseum’s Morgue]

“…Huup!”

Jin Seyeon opened her eyes, gasping for breath. A sharp pain struck her body. She trembled immediately after waking up. Her stomach felt especially painful.

“Auuu….”

“…You’re up?”

A feeble voice rang out. Jin Seyeon turned to the side with a pale face. However, she couldn’t see the owner of the voice. The surrounding scenery entered her eyes.
The smell of alcohol entered her nose, rows of wooden coffins were lined up, and a faint smell of death filled the air.

“This is…?”

“A morgue.”

A deep voice rang out.
Jin Seyeon’s body trembled. She quickly got up, then collapsed once again. She then focused her strength and got up while leaning against the wall.

“…Are you acting?”

Seeing her move like a stringless puppet, the man sneered. Jin Seyeon glared at the man, as cold sweat flowed down her forehead.

“You….”

“Don’t you want to save your comrades?”

Black Lotus said so as he approached Jin Seyeon.

“Why didn’t you listen to me? I told you to put your bow down.”

“….”

Black Lotus stood in front of her. Jin Seyeon didn’t answer and continued to glare at him intently. She was trying to see through his mask, but just like in the Colosseum, it didn’t work.

The man grinned.

===
[Lv.10 Hassan-i Sabbah’s Assassin Mask]
○Lv.9 Dark Travel
○Lv.9 Stealth
○Lv.9 Disguise
===

This artifact had historic ties with the renowned assassin, Hassan-i Sabbah. Not even the Divine Archer’s eyes could see through it. Simply put, I was overgeared.
Phiunel had gifted it to Boss, but, as always, Kim Hajin had taken it from her, saying it suited him more.

“You won’t be able to see anything no matter how hard you try.”

“….”

Jin Seyeon’s pride was hurt, but she knew Black Lotus was her savior. At the very least, she had to thank him for not taking her life. She wanted to ask him about the ‘Kwang-Oh Incident’, but she couldn’t worsen the situation.

She asked, “Will you really save my comrades?”

Black Lotus answered, “If you cooperate.”

Jin Seyeon asked back carefully, “Can I ask why you’re willing to help us?”

Black Lotus then glared at Jin Seyeon, but she didn’t flinch at his flicking red eyes.
…A lot of talk for someone who lost. Black Lotus murmured so and sighed.

“The Demon King is searching for a challenger,” Black Lotus explained.

Jin Seyeon’s eyes widened.

“A challenger? What do you mean?”

Jin Seyeon was surprised.

“The Demon King is someone who is seeking to die. But he wants an honorable death.”

Kim Hajin reiterated the setting he wrote. How Kim Suho would defeat the Demon King and conquer the Tower of Wish. The plotline of the story was all in his head.

“…How do you know all this?”

His vague explanation invoked Jin Seyeon’s curiosity. Jin Seyeon asked for more details, but Black Lotus looked at her as though she was asking a stupid question.
It was only then that she understood what he meant.

“Don’t tell me… You’ve already been to the 29th floor…?”

Black Lotus nodded.

“Ha….”

Jin Seyeon’s jaw dropped. All her thoughts paused at that moment: the pain burning up her body, her complicated feelings about the Chameleon Troupe, and her worries about her comrades.

‘Just how strong must he be to have climbed the Tower so quickly…?’

Jin Seyeon stared at Black Lotus with nothing but suspicion and admiration.

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