Chapter 32. A Misunderstanding (2)

The gist of Odelette Delphine's offer was just as Seol suspected: she wanted him to join her team.

Judging from her description, he thought that the composition of the team itself seemed to be well thought out.

Hao Win was the Warrior of the group, Leorda and Tong Chai were the Archers, Delphine was the Magician, and the last person Seol wasn't familiar with acted as the Priest.

Considering that missions rated 'Hard' and 'Very Hard' had the cap of six participants max, it was as if they had deliberately left the final spot for Seol.

If things remained the same as before, Seol wouldn't even hesitate to say yes. Not only did this team feature two people Kim Hannah mentioned he should get friendly with, Seol himself was sensing that the time had come to find reliable comrades as well.

However, the situation was different now. Seol had to amass 82,000 points as quickly as possible.

'I'd be able to earn that many points even if I join this team, but….'

Obviously, he didn't want to sacrifice himself unconditionally. He wanted to fix Yun Seora's arm, get himself some proper equipment, and also buy more Divine Elixirs from the VIP store.

In other words, he wanted to have his cake and eat it. Others might call him a greedy fool, but he did not want to give up on any one of his desires.

In the end… he had to decide.

“I'm truly sorry, but…. At the moment, it's difficult for the time being.”

There was a way for him to achieve the things he wanted. If Seol monopolized the remaining 'Hard' missions, he'd be able to earn more than enough points to cover the cost of the Ceremony and still have some change. With that, he'd get equipment and recruit people to form a team. People might slag him off for this, but this was the best scenario Seol could think of.

Hng.

Maybe she didn't expect him to refuse her, Delphine looked crestfallen.

“Hmm….”

Hao Win seemed as if he was not ready to accept Seol's answer just yet.

“I am well aware of how extraordinary you are. I acknowledge your skills, but the difficulty of the 'Very Hard' missions are nothing to laugh about. You alone will not be enough.”

“Yes, I know.”

“You say you know, yet…. Ahh, is it because you do not like the composition of this team? Or were you planning to form your own?”

“I haven't thought of forming a team yet. And, to be frank, I quite like the look of this team as well. I wouldn't mind doing missions with you, actually.”

“Then why the refusal?”

Hao Win gazed at Seol with a questioning pair of eyes. His expression showed how confused he was, and he continued to study Seol for a bit longer, before tilting his head.

“Now that I've taken a proper look, I see that you haven't bought any equipment besides your spear. I'd imagine you were able to earn a massive amount of points by now…. Did you invest them all into your abilities?”

“No.”

Seol shook his head right away. He never planned to buy abilities from the stores but did want to buy good equipment for himself. The situation got turned on its head before that could happen though.

“I am even more confused, then. One more thing – if I didn't see incorrectly a moment ago, you were planning to do another Hard mission, were you not?”

The question was sharp and on point. Just like his stare was.

“You have exhausted one mission completely, but as for the others, you only did them six times each before moving on.”

“….”

“You could have finished them all, but left them behind in consideration of other survivors. At least, that's what I thought until now.”

“Mister Win!”

Delphine glared at Hao Win. Judging from the tone of his voice, she thought that he was trying to pick a fight with Seol.

“Sounds like you are saying that this young man's at fault. If you did indeed mean that, I can not agree.”

Tong Chai stood up for Delphine.

“I'm not certainly trying to go against the decisions already taken. But, honestly speaking, I never really understood us also planning to perform each Hard mission six times and move on to the next one. The Neutral Zone is a place of competition. Should it not be, 'first come, first served' when it comes to missions?”

“I'm not saying it's his fault. Simply put, I'm having a hard time understanding him.”

Delphine stared at Hao Win who was waving his hand around in a show of frustration.

The first person to suggest Seol's inclusion to the team might be her, but the one who vigorously championed for it was none other Hao Win.

Her team was indeed the best in the Neutral Zone on paper. However, they still had their share of issues. In short, they lacked offensive power.

For the time being, the team's tactic was to have Hao Win stand in front as the vanguard, while the two Archers kept the enemy movements in check. And, Delphine would sweep them away with her magic from the back. With this tactic, they were exposed to comparatively low risk per mission, although the time it took to clear one was a little long.

However, new 'clear conditions' were added to 'Very Hard' missions. Simply staying on their backfoot and passively defending all the time would not work anymore. New conditions, such as 'ambush' and 'occupation', were added to each mission, forcing one to take the initiative and attack.

So, Hao Win argued that they would not be able to complete these missions with the tactic they have been employing until now. He passionately argued that they needed this youth's attack power.

So, why was this Hao Win questioning the youth like this?

“If you're a lone wolf type, I will respect that. However, I don't think you're one. You must've gathered a sizeable points tally by now, yet besides the spear, you haven't invested them on anything. It's like, you're only trying to hoard them and nothing else.”

Certainly, from the third person's perspective, Seol's story did sound rather odd when someone pointed out the strange bits like Hao Win had.

Seol let off a soft sigh.

“Just like you said, I had quite a few Survival Points.”

“Had…. Why the past tense?”

“I spent most of it in the VIP store. Of course, I left some behind to buy new equipment for myself. Well, I was planning to buy, but then, my situation changed.”

“How so…. Something happened?”

Hao Win's attitude had softened ever so slightly.

“There's a situation, and I need to earn a lot of points as quickly as possible.”

Although this wasn't a story he should go around advertising, Seol felt that he owed these people an explanation. So, he told them about Yun Seora's right arm, as well as Maria's Ceremony that required a large amount of Survival Points.

He hadn't had anyone to share his troubling thoughts with for a while, so when this opportunity presented itself, he ended up pouring out most of what was in his heart.

After listening to Seol's situation, everyone blinked non-stop and stared at him. Especially Hao Win, who looked totally dazed as if someone punched him in the face out of the blue.

“You had that kind of situation….”

Delphine sounded very sympathetic.

“Mm. I understand your situation. But, is there a reason for you to help that person out in the first place?”

Tong Chai asked Seol, sounding slightly confused.

“Unless she was your family member, a sibling, perhaps. But, to spend 82,000 points for someone from the same Area…. That seems a bit too drastic, don't you agree?”

Seol scratched his head, unable to answer right away.

He had various reasons. Besides Kim Hannah requesting him, it was also a chance to test out the Golden Commandment as well. Of course, he also wanted to help her out, too…. In any case, there was no need to tell these people absolutely everything.

“I received her help during the Tutorial, and…. It's hard to say why. I just can't stop thinking about it.”

“You can't?”

“Yes. It is a bit of shame, too….”

Seol muttered out as if he was complaining about something.

“Only if I knew what was going on a little bit sooner, things wouldn't have gotten this bad….”

After hearing Seol's whisper, Hao Win's body shuddered ever so slightly. He drew his chin inward and quietly studied Seol for a while. It was as if he was looking at the youth in a new light.

“Who is this person you're trying to help?”

Hao Win asked him. Compared to before, his voice and softened quite considerably.

“Her name is Yun Seora….”

“Yun Seora…. Definitely a girl, then?”

“Yes.”

“I see. That was why….”

Hao Win let off a short groan and finally lowered his legs from the table.

“Oh, by the way, I don't think I've heard your name yet.”

“Seol…. My name's Seol.”

Hao Win sat up properly and gazed at the darkened complexion of the youth.

“I apologize for my earlier behavior. Looks like I spoke too prematurely. I thought you didn't really associate yourself with anyone…. I had no idea you had that kind of circumstance. Truly.”

“No, it's alright. Don't mind it.”

“Will you accept my apology?”

Hao Win suddenly offered his hand. Seol reached out and shook it after being slightly bewildered by this gesture. Hao Win quietly nodded his head, and then, spoke up again.

“I understand.”

“…Pardon?”

“Only if you knew sooner…. The words of lingering attachment. I know how you feel since I've experienced something similar myself.”

Hao Win sounded rather lonely, then.

“Please, stop telling us that annoying love story of yours!! Please!”

“Huh? But, did you not sympathize with me when I told you the story for the first time?”

“That's for once or twice, you know! If you bring it up again today, it'll be for the seventh time!!”

Delphine crumpled her expression and covered up her ears.

Seol alternated his gaze between the two, feeling rather pleasantly surprised. He thought their relationship was simply a cooperative one, but it seemed to be a lot friendlier than expected.

Hao Win licked his lips as if he was unhappy about the missed chance and let go of Seol's hand.

“Listen, friend. How much do you need for that Ceremony?”

Hao Win asked Seol out of the blue. The youth quickly calculated in his head.

“43,720 points.”

“43,720? ….That might be doable.”

What did he mean by 'doable'?

Before Seol could ask, Hao Win clapped his hands once and drew the attention to himself.

“Let's see. I know that we've prepared various things to entice this young man into our team…. However, why don't we do it this way?”

“What way?”

Delphine asked in curiosity, causing Hao Win to point at the noticeboard.

“First of all, we invite him to our team. Then us six will clear Hard difficulty missions.”

Delphine tilted her head but still listened. Hao Win may possess an easy-going and pleasant personality, but he was never one to speak without thinking deeply about a subject.

“Except, we hand over our share of rewards to this youth.”

“What did you say?”

“Bullshit.”

Tong Chai strongly objected. Even Leorda, who had been keeping quiet until now, spat out his opinion in a cold voice.

“If you were planning to do whatever you want, why did you even form a team in the first place?”

“What, didn't we agree that we need this youth's ability in order to attempt 'Very Hard' missions?”

“But, you changed the story, did you not?”

“Listen to me. My point is this – either we cooperate or we compete.”

Hao Win then pointed at Seol.

“This friend here, Mister Seol, needs Survival Points for personal reasons. He will do whatever it takes to earn them. Didn't you see him getting ready to attempt the Hard missions just now?”

“So, what about it? We can also do those missions, no? All we have to do is recruit another skillful Warrior.”

“It's not a matter of skill. As far as the Very Hard missions are concerned, the positions of our team and this youth match up just fine, but for Hard missions, it's a different story altogether.”

“I can't figure out what you're trying to say here.”

“Think about it. Think about how long we need to clear one Hard mission, and then, how long this young man needs to clear one.”

Tong Chai's expression hardened visibly. Finally, he realized what Hao Win was trying to say.

Everyone here could remember it well. This youth cleared missions at a frightening speed. Not only that, all by himself, no less.

“I'll say this right now. If we fail to pull this young man in now…. How many more times will we be able to complete Hard missions, I wonder?”

“Hmm….”

“At a minimum, five times? Ten times, if we're fast enough?”

“Even if that's true, I feel that we wouldn't be losing out too much still.”

“Indeed, we'd be able to still earn some points that way.”

“There is something you are mistaken about, Hao Win.”

Leorda abruptly cut in.

“As you say, if Seol becomes our comrade, it'd be a good thing for us. However, I can not agree with your assertion that only after he joins our team, we'd be able to attempt Very Hard missions.”

“That's the same story for this friend too.”

Hao Win didn't even flinch as he lightly rebuffed the argument.

“Indeed, there is no doubt that our team is the best in the Neutral Zone. However, this friend here is the top survivor in the Zone. He is unmatched. Unrivaled. You think he won't be able to form his own team? Or you think no team out there will welcome him with open arms?”

If their team failed to pull Seol in, then later on, they would have to compete against him or his team. Since Seol regained his fame and prestige a few days ago through his unbelievable actions, it'd be a lie to say they weren't feeling the pressure.

“So, the conclusion is this. 43,720 points? Let's think of it as a contract signing fee. If we divide the cost among ourselves, it's what, around 8,700 per person? That much, we will be able to recoup very quickly as soon as we start doing the Very Hard missions.”

What Hao Win was arguing for was to recruit Seol to their team and avoid potentially having to compete with another strong team later down the line.

“Think about it carefully. Just completing one Very Hard mission with 50,000 points nets over 8,000 points for each of us.”

“Very good.”

Delphine spoke up with an enthusiastic voice.

“In order to earn a bigger profit later, invest now, is that it? I can agree to that. I enjoy competition, but for this once, I will instead choose to grab onto this opportunity. This fellow here, I've had my eyes on him for quite some time, you see.”

“So she says. What about you?”

Hao Win looked at Tong Chai, and the latter man slowly closed his eyes. Leorda did the same as well. Since the team's leader had spoken, it was the same thing as the scale having tilted to one way already.

“Oh, and about the contract fee we were planning to give him.”

As if he hadn't finished yet, Hao Win continued.

“With the exception of our Priest over here, let's lend 2000 points each to Seol. I'm sure you all have that much leeway?”

“I thought we were finished with discussing the signing fee?”

Delphine hurriedly spoke up after sensing that Tong Chai was about to blow his top.

“Look, after he goes through that Ceremony or whatever, he will be left with nothing to his name, correct? Don't you think this friend needs to get some proper equipment if he were to attempt Very Hard missions with us?”

“Even still….”

“I'm saying, we are lending him, not giving the points away. Besides, Seol will be taking the vanguard position from now on, so can't you extend your favors just a little? By equipping this friend with the best armor available, the odds of our survival also increases, no?”

“Really, you don't know when to quit!”

Tong Chai angrily stood up. He then glared at Seol, who was just sitting there with an innocent look on his face.

“No need to say anymore. Show us what you're capable of.”

“Huh?”

“Hao Win over here is a man who will live and die by his principle. That's why he's saying all these things, but I'm different. I understand your situation, but I do not see the reason why I need to go out of my way to accommodate you.”

Seol slowly nodded his head.

Actually, even he thought Hao Win's conditions were too good to be true. If he were able to move with a team, he'd be able to avoid being blamed for hogging everything for himself, and better still, he'd be able to monopolize the rewards as well.

On top of this, they wanted to lend him points to buy equipment, too. He was planning to buy equipment sooner or later anyway, so it was difficult to see this as him owing them a debt.

“However, I do understand some parts of Hao Win's arguments. That is why you should display your skills to us. We have heard all the rumors, but I need to see it with my own two eyes. Convince me that you are worthy of investment.”

Tong Chai passionately stated his case.

Prove himself?

'That's easy.'

Seol grasped the spear and stood up from his seat. Which caused Tong Chai, who had been glaring at him until now, to flinch and back off.

“H, hold on.”

“?”

“I didn't mean that you should fight me. No, what I meant was, show me through those.”

Tong Chai pointed at the mission noticeboard.
“Oh.”

“Kuhum. I'll go and bring a mission paper. Prepare yourself in the meantime.”

Tong Chai left the lounge.

While waiting for the turban-wearing man, Seol shifted his gaze over to Hao Win, who had a huge smile etched on his face.

“Why?”

“Mm?”

“Why are you going out of your way to help me?”

Hao Win played a major role in talks progressing to this point. Seol lacked the ability of eloquent speech, and so, could only marvel at Hao Win's sleek persuasion skills. But at the same time, the youth couldn't understand the reason why. After all, the Chinese man was someone he'd never even talked to prior to this day.

“Well…. I'm apologizing for my initial misunderstanding….”

The end of Hao Win's words trailed off, which was quite unlike him. He then shrugged his shoulders.

“I don't hate guys like you. A man who's willing to brave dangers for the woman he loves! Actually, I wish to cheer you on, you see.”

Seol nearly spat out the drink he was drinking, right then.

“L, love?!”

“Hmm? Am I wrong?”

“Definitely. I'm not even going out with her.”

“But, you said you can't stop thinking about her?”

“That is….”

….A person was withering away right in front of his face, so, quite obviously, he wouldn't be able to stop thinking about it.

Seeing Seol's complexion wane, Hao Win broke out in hearty laughter.

“I don't mind a shy type of love, but it's better if you are upfront about it. Look, man. If it was someone totally unrelated to you, would you be going out of your way to gather 82,000 points? Weren't you planning to forge ahead regardless of what others might think of you?”

“B, but, that's not it….”

If he was interested in Yun Seora in the first place, he'd not have abandoned her until she fell into such a wretched state.

He only heard about her circumstances coincidentally. And just as coincidentally, Kim Hannah came to him to ask for the favor. He did completely forget about her while being immersed in the training regime, after all.

“I was the same as you. A long time has passed by since then, but I still regret it to this day. I never knew how important the other person was. Only after she left my side did I realize my mistake.”

Whatever the case may have been, this Hao Win fellow deeply misunderstood something here.

“I also find you rather envious as well. You've realized it before it’s too late, unlike me….”

Hao Win's reminiscing tone of voice nearly made Seol's body to shrink back, but the youth summoned whatever willpower he could muster to stop that from happening.

At the same time, Tong Chai returned with a mission parchment. In order to enter a mission with others, they had to be in physical contact.

“In any case, that is the reason why I'm helping you.”

Hao Win picked up a huge shield. After placing his arm over Seol's shoulders, a big grin broke out on his face.

“You see, I'm a hopeless romantic.”

And then, accompanied by the sound of paper being torn, all six of them disappeared from the spot.

A short while later…. To be more precise, two minutes and 47 seconds later.

Six people reappeared in the plaza.

With the exception of one, no, two people, the expressions on the rest showed how shocked they were.

Hao Win was laughing his ass off while keeling halfway to the floor; meanwhile, Seol was catching his breath after going all out for the first time in a while.

“C… Crazy….”

Leorda's expression was as if he had just witnessed a terrifying monster.

He saw it with his own eyes, but even then, he could hardly believe it. The youth carrying a spear dashed forward like a streak of lightning the very moment they teleported to the mission area. Then, he began beating the seven shades of monsters there without missing a beat.

He stabbed them with his speartip, then he smacked them around using the spear shaft – Leorda couldn't forget the scene of one monster dying without fail every time Seol wielded his weapon.

Leorda was well aware of the fact that Seol had completed the toughest mission in the 'Hard' difficulty, 'Breaking out of the siege', all by himself. But, this was…. Now that he bore witness to the youth's prowess, it exceeded Leorda's wildest imaginations. Should he say the whole thing was… exciting? Soul-stirring, even?

“I'd have never imagined that I'd feel pity for the monsters during a mission.”

“I told you. Now can you understand everything I've said?”

Hao Win continued to cackle at Leorda's expense. The latter man looked like he was totally fed up now as he shook his head.

The facial expression on the person who objected most voraciously, Tong Chai, was also quite something else to behold.

“Now that you saw the performance personally, what do you think, Mister Tong Chai?”

Tong Chai stood there like a stone statue before abruptly shifting his gaze over to Seol.

“You're from Area 1, which means you're from South Korea?”

“That's correct.”

“Have you been to the army?”

“I was a sergeant by the time I was discharged.”

“Ahh…. I see….”

“?”

Seeing Tong Chai nod his head sagely, Seol couldn't help but get flustered. What sort of misunderstanding was this guy going through now?

Seol was about to clarify that he was nothing more than an administrative clerk, but Hao Win cut in before he could.

“So, now you agree with my proposition?”

“I agree with you 100%. And I will invest 3000 points.”

Hao Win whistled, impressed, at that big amount.

“Wow. Isn't the change in your attitude too sudden?”

“But, of course. I've only recognized the fact that I'm not the driver, merely the passenger in this ride.”

Tong Chai smiled wryly and took off his turban. Then, he slightly lowered his head towards Seol.

“I hope you can buy the best equipment available. I am genuinely looking forward to trying out the Very Hard missions now.”

“Fufufu. What about you, Leorda?”

“….I'll also lend him 3000 points.”

Leorda crossed his arms in front of his chest and averted his gaze.

“Oh, it seems that everyone is willing to show off a bit, no? Very good. Then, 4000 points from me.”

“And 5000 points from me!”

Staying silent until then, Delphine suddenly piped up and, as if she was very excited about something, jumped up and down repeatedly before clutching onto Seol's arm.

“Bus!!”

Panicking slightly, Seol looked down at her. While clinging onto his arm, she shouted out while her eyes sparkled brightly.

“Please, let me get on this bus!”

*

She opened her eyes and was greeted by the blurry world. It was as if she was looking through a screen of water while being submerged underneath. The lights filling her vision remained bright, though.

“Ahh….”

Her eyes hurt. Yun Seora reflexively closed her eyes and sighed out inwardly.

'I survived…'

She wished to die, actually.

She pulled her hands in almost instinctively, only to realize something was not quite right.

The sensation on the tips of her fingers was soft. Her back felt comfortable too, and most importantly, her body did not feel heavy at all. It always felt like it weighed a ton until now….

Right away, she opened her eyes like a person struck by lightning. And she was astonished by the sights of the room greeting her.

“Where is this…?”

She remembered making her way back somehow to that place on the fifth floor, the one that wasn't furnished enough to be called a lounge. But now that she had opened her eyes, she found herself inside a palace, instead.

'Maybe, I did die?'

….But, just as she finished thinking like so, the door to the room clicked open.

“Uh? Unni?”

Yi Seol-Ah was returning to the room after buying something to eat, and seeing that Yun Seora had regained her consciousness, she quickly came to her side in a light trot.

“Uhm….”

“You are awake! How are you feeling?”

“Where… am I?”

“It's heaven.”

Yi Sungjin abruptly butted in. Yun Seora went, oh, and was about to nod her head, but saw the pointy end of the food tray dig deep into the boy's side and couldn't help but be confused.

“Ouch! What?!”

“She's going to misunderstand you!”

“But, but! This place is heaven, isn’t it?”

“T, that's true, too….”

Now that Yi Seol-Ah thought about it, her little brother had a point there.

Yi Seol-Ah quickly cleared her throat a couple of times and, with a bright smile, placed the tray down. Yun Seora's eyes opened up wide in shock after seeing some seriously appetizing grub on it. Saliva instinctively pooled in her mouth as the warm steam rose up from the delicious-smelling soup.

“Please, eat them. I'm sure you're starving by now.”

“W, what about you two….?”

“We brought ours along as well, so don't worry.”

“What is going on?”

Yun Seora's mind was in a mess. She woke up and so many things seemed to have changed while she was out cold.

“Oppa helped us out.”

“Hyung helped us out.”

The siblings answered simultaneously.

“W, who?”

“That's it for now. I'll tell you everything once you finish them all~.”

Yi Seol-Ah pointed at the food tray.

There was no way Yun Seora would refuse. This was the first proper meal she had seen in over a month, after all. Unable to fight the desire, she hurriedly picked up the spoon.

'Tastes… so good.'

This soup that seemed to melt on the tip of her tongue – how could it taste so wonderful?

Yun Seora's whole being focused on the meal at hand, and after making sure nothing was wrong, the Yi siblings also dug into their food as well.

And so, as the trio silently enjoyed their meal, Yi Sungjin suddenly let off a long sigh. Yi Seol-Ah glanced at her brother, chopsticks caught between her lips.

“You shouldn't sigh like that during meals, you know.”

“No, I know…. It's just that, I'm worried.”

“Mm?”

“I wonder if it's really okay for us to keep staying here….”

Hearing her little brother's depressed voice, Yi Seol-Ah tilted her head.

“If I were in Hyung's shoes, I think I'd be feeling a bit annoyed by us…”

“Y, you think so?”

“Ng. I mean, us staying here like this, we're inconveniencing him, right? If we are honest, didn't we dump him with the responsibility of fixing Seora Noona's arm, too?”

Yun Seora's left arm was moving nonstop but then, it froze mid-action as soon as the boy's words left his mouth. Yi Seol-Ah went, Ah!, but it was too late.

Even though Seol said he'd go and earn enough points, that amount was not something he could gather in one or two days. No, the odds of not gathering enough before the Neutral Zone's deadline approached were greater. It would do no one any good to raise an unrealistic expectation, so she didn't want to say anything.

“What are you talking about?”

“It, it's nothing. Don't worry, unni. Just finish your meal first.”

Yun Seora silently put the spoon down, no longer eating. Yi Seol-Ah glared at her little brother, but she knew that the milk had been spilled already. In the end, she had to come clean about what happened.

“82,000 points?!”

“Yes. If we want to heal your arm, we need 82,000 points….”

It was such a nonsensical number, a helpless chuckle leaked out from Yun Seora's lips. Since she didn't even have 10 points for a simple meal to her name, she couldn't even begin to imagine the enormity of 82,000 points.

“What about him….?”

“He left a while ago saying he'd be going out to earn some points….”

Yun Seora leaned her back against the wall. Her question's been answered, but the confusion in her head remained.

'Why?'

She couldn't understand it.

They only came from the same Area. Yet, he brought her to his own room. He then gave away those precious points, so she could have something to eat after waking up. And then, he was trying to get her arm fixed as well.

'But, why?'

As a person who never cared about other people's business, Seol's helping hand felt so alien and not to mention, burdensome to her.

On the flip side, it did kind of feel a little itchy. Her head still questioned, but her body was certainly rejoicing at the goodwill being showered on her.

Now that she thought about it, she might have seen him during her sleep.

[….Are you alright?]

The face of the youth, reaching out to her.

'….I want to see him.'

When this thought formed in her head, Yun Seora's eyes blinked several times in surprise.

'What did I think about just now?'

“Uhm, unni? Please, don't be discouraged if orabeo-nim tells you it'll be difficult.”

“I won't do that.”

Yun Seora replied matter-of-factly at Yi Seol-Ah's baseless anxiety. She remained cold and detached, but still, knew how to remain courteous.

'But what should I say to him once he comes back?'

It was then. They could hear loud footsteps coming from the corridor.

*

'But I wanted to see what the Ceremony looked like…'

Seol was sitting on the steps of the staircase while sighing out wistfully.

He and the new team successfully completed several Hard mission. They completed each mission six times, earning 43,500 extra points.

His clearing speed was also incomparably faster. Every team member fought in the manner Seol recommended, so it was small wonder that the missions were cleared much faster than before.

After earning enough points this way, Seol went to see Maria and requested her to hold the Ceremony.

She might have a dirty mouth, but Maria would never go back on her own word. She told him not to come inside the room since the god she served would descend during the Ceremony itself. She then swapped out of the maid uniform for an ice-white robe, and while clutching a sizeable bag full of stuff and being accompanied by two other maids, she went upstairs to Seol's room.

By this time, even the two Yi siblings must've been chased out from the room, thought Seol.

In any case, knowing that he had resolved the situation somehow, he was feeling not too shabby at the moment.

“As I was saying….”

….That was, if one discounted one exception.

All thanks to Hao Win, who was sitting next to him and yapped on and on seemingly without an end, Seol thought he might develop neurosis at this rate.

Originally, the team was supposed to meet up again tomorrow morning after Seol purchased suitable equipment for himself. However, Hao Win said he wanted to talk to the youth for a bit, and that 'bit' got extended to 'forever', instead.

It was fine for him to misunderstand all by himself, but then, he kept yammering on and on about some nonsense.

….Such as, the stories of his past love.

“You see, women are creatures of emotions. See? They are different from us males.”

“Sure….”

“Your looks? Your body? Money? They do matter, sure. But the most important thing, it's your heart. Your heart!”

“Sure….”

“How much does this man think about me? How much does he care about me? These things are important, you see? That's all you need.”

“Sure….”

“Really now. You need to be more confident in yourself. I can help you out any time if you need me. I mean, such a wonderful opportunity has been created, so it should be a child's play now. Am I right? So, how about it? Should I help you?”

“Sure….”

….Or, with substance-less lectures about the rules of dating.

Seol continued to mouth half-hearted replies. Now he could understand why Odelette Delphine looked so fed up back then.

'Oh well, at least he's not as terrifying as I feared, though.'

“Alright! I won't stand out too much, and just set the mood up for you young ones. All you have to do is to match the timing, that's all!”

“….Eh?”

Seol had been responding like a robot without thinking too much about it, and the conversation strayed off course by quite a lot while he wasn't paying attention.

“…Match the timing?”

Just before Seol could ask for clarification, bright light exploded above their heads. When both men looked up, they saw soft and gentle rays of light up there. This was odd since the door to Seol's room should have been closed shut.

Hao Win slowly opened his mouth.

“Looks like it's over.”

“I should go and take a look.”

Seol got up and hurriedly ran to his room. For some reason, Hao Win decided to follow right behind, as well.

Arriving on the tenth floor, Seol could see that that door to his room was still closed shut. The two maids accompanying Maria were nowhere to be seen, other than the backs of the anxious Yi siblings hesitating there.

“Orabeo-nim!”

Yi Seol-Ah spotted Seol and called out helplessly.

“What happened?”

“I, I don’t know! There was a sudden explosion of light, and, and, the two maids entered the room in a hurry, and….”

“How long has it been?”

“Not long. Maybe, not even one minute…?”

Creak….

Before Yi Seol-Ah could finish, the door cautiously creaked open.

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