Chapter 34 - How A Veteran Grows (1)

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[Players Rank A and above, please quit your current tasks and gather immediately at the top floor penthouse.]

Woong!

The cell phones vibrated. It was a short order that told them to convene for some reason.

“Damn it, I am so busy. What is this?”

“Don’t even bother asking. I was in the middle of a raid.”

“Kuak! No matter how hard it is to ignore, isn’t this getting worse and worse each day?”

Players belonging to the Black Crow Guild gathered around the building and grunted. It was quiet inside.

There was shattered glass on the floor. The sight was different from normal, which made everyone confused.

“What is this?”

“This is our… building, right?”

A deep sense of discomfort rose in the players. They knew that something had clearly gone wrong.

Clack!

The moment they opened the door to the penthouse and stepped in, the ominous feeling became certain.

“H-How did this happen?”

“Gunsu-hyung!”

“Healer… call for a healer right now!”

The person lying on the floor covered in blood was none other than their Guild Master, Shin Gunsu.

“We are late. He’s stopped breathing for a few hours already….”

That was what the healer who examined his conditions said. Wounds could be healed, but reviving the dead wasn’t something a healer could do.

The guild master was dead.

Then…

Who gave them the emergency call? Everyone’s eyes turned to the other person in the room.

It was the secretary, Kim Hee-wong. The anger from the players soared as the man stood around with an anxious look.

One player even pulled out a weapon.

Woong…!

A spear over 2 meters in length was immediately pulled out from the subspace inventory. The sharp weapon was extended towards Kim Hee-wong’s neck.

“Do not miss a fucking thing and tell me what happened! Right now!”

“Haa… w-what happened was.”

Kim Hee-wong glanced to the side with a troubled look. His gaze was clearly aimed under the table.

Who else was here? Just as everyone thought about that question.

Step.

A white-haired girl who looked too young to be here appeared from under the tale. She had long white hair, red eyes, and a strange atmosphere around her.

“Sigh.”

The girl scratched her head in annoyance. She didn’t even care about the weapons that had been pulled out.

How could she look this carefree?

“This is absurd. Do you want me to think that a kid could have done this?”

The man with the spear clicked his tongue, and at that moment…

Elise felt angry

“Kid… kid?”

Kuku!

It was then that a red-colored magic began to overflow into the room.

[Lv?? 'Blood Realm' is activated]

The killing intent that had been heating up the room disappeared immediately and was replaced by a cold sensation that made their bodies feel like they would freeze.

Among them, some players had participated in the first-floor boss raid, but…

… this couldn’t be compared.

This was a totally different feeling.

“Oh my….”

“W-what magic!’

“S-she is a monster.”

Tremble!

The players had all gone stiff-faced, and no one even thought of running.

“Woah, c-calm down. D… didn’t the president tell us to not kill if possible?”

Kim Hee-wong said in a panic. One still needed core resources to operate a guild.

Jin-hyuk urged them to preserve the rankers as much as possible, but…

“What? Didn’t you hear what they said to me?”

Elise had lost her reasoning. It was as if the accumulated stress had burst out alongside a large amount of magic.

Kwaang!

All of the windows in the building were smashed.


Awakened Association in Seocho-dong.

Jin-hyuk went there to prove that he had passed the second test.

1:00pm.

The exact time promised. Jin-hyuk looked around after checking his phone.

‘Now it is almost time…’

And just as he thought that…

“Hyung!”

“Oppa! Here, over here!”

Two people were waving their hands as they approached him at the entrance.

It was Lee Taemin and Yoo Yeon-hwa.

Considering the time, it hadn’t been too long.

But why?

Jin-hyuk felt happy seeing the two of them.

“We came right on time. Have you been well all this while?”

“We did! We even successfully captured one of the B-rank labyrinths on the second floor!”

Taemin shrugged his shoulders.

“The level has risen quite a bit, and we didn’t even sleep as we continued to hunt.”

Yoo Yeon-hwa was making an expression as if she was asking to be praised. Well, he could feel that the magic coming from the two of them was different.

Not only did the overall amount, but the concentration of magic also increased.

“You look spectacular.”

“Eh. Not as much as oppa.”

“Uh?”

“Don’t pretend like you don’t know. The video uploaded to the Hall of Fame yesterday was you, right?”

Yoo Yeon-hwa poked him in the side, and Lee Taemin added.

“Hyung, but why wear a mask? Hopefully, you aren’t doing it like you did in the past like a chuunibyou… right?”

“It was because of a few circumstances. Rather… you knew?”

Even with the mask on?

No, instead, calling him a chuunibyou is a bit too much.

There was no denying that he did act like that in the past. But he felt upset at the memory.

“Because there is only oppa who would attack the ruins. And I noticed that it was you right away.”

“Actually, the moment I saw the news, I knew it was hyung.”

“Ah! Was that so?”

Jin-hyuk, who had a gloomy expression, felt glad.

In many ways…

“But, hyung, did you really finish playing [Tower of Trials] around the same time as us?”

“When we saw the video, it wasn’t a level of memorizing patterns but at the level of hitting back at the makers of the tower…”

They both looked at Jin-hyuk with awe and doubt. It was an annoying look.

But, there was only one thing that needed to be done.

Currently, the [Tower of Trials] community forum was on the verge of exploding after yesterday’s video.

The attack on the 3rd-floor boss had failed, and the ruins were considered impenetrable.

The combination of those factors made the people focus on the mask-wearing man. On his true identity.

In the past, how many floors did this man clear? And which guild did he belong to?

His hobbies, favorite food, and even the color of his underwear became a subject of interest.

‘The reaction is a bit intense.’

Jin-hyuk smiled.

It was roughly what he expected but still a bit excessive.

‘Fine.’

If these conditions were met, it would be easier to act in the future.

With the mask or without, living both ways too.

‘Will be top-notch.’

The 1st and 2nd ranked player in the world. At first glance, they may be different people, but in reality, they would be the same.

‘I will take advantage of those two conditions and take advantage of this for my benefit!’

Ba-dump! Ba-dump!

As he thought about the countless plans in his mind, Jin-hyuk felt his heart beat a little faster.

At that time.

“Hyung? Answer us. Seriously, how many floors did you reach?”

“Ah. You shouldn’t be asking like that. Be honest, oppa. You are one of the game executives, right?”

“Nuna, that is a bit too much.”

“No, otherwise, how would you explain how he moves like that at such a level?”

“… now it makes sense to me too.”

He couldn’t understand how their misunderstanding spread all the way there. While it was nice to see them apply their imagination…

“Sorry.”

Jin-hyuk smiled brightly

At the same time, he showed his phone to the two.

[Please come to report the second test's results by 1:15pm.]

Perhaps because there weren’t any tests today, the inside of the center was quiet. Jin-hyuk arrived at the information desk and presented his ID.

“I came to receive the confirmation of passing the second test.”

“Yes, wait a minute.”

A female employee took the ID. But…

“Uh…? Kang… Jin-hyuk?”

She had a surprised expression.

She looked at the card and then at his face as she jumped up from her seat.

“Would you please wait a minute?”

“Uh?”

“Wait. I have something to report. Please wait here.”

The female employee who was not willing to say anything ran off somewhere.

It happened so quickly that he couldn’t even respond. And after a while…

A middle-aged man with a sharp face came with the employee.

‘This is surprising.’

Jin-hyuk narrowed his eyes. How could he not know this man?

The president of the Awakened Association, Han Sang-jin.

[Lv2: Eye of Truth activated.]

The Eye of Truth showed him the status window.

Tring!

Name: Han Sang-jin
Gender: Male
Age: 45
Strength 19 Agility 17 Stamina 15 Magic 15
Stat Points: 0
Coins: 0
Occupation: Administrator
Unique Ability: Collective Command
Skills: Lv4 Bureaucracy. Lv4 Solid Unity, Lv3 Arbitration, Lv3 Ideology Verification

[Copy Conditions: The copy conditions aren't appearing due to an error.]

As Jin-hyuk finished reading the status window and copying conditions that had appeared.

“I was waiting for you to come, player Kang Jin-hyuk.”

Han Sang-jin walked right in front of him and reached out his hand for a handshake.

Shit.

Somehow, he had the foreboding that this would take a long time…

No doubt.

Han Sang-jin’s eyes were like a beast looking at its prey.

‘But if I stand still, I will be a fool who doesn’t understand common courtesy.’

Phew.

Nothing else could be done.

But Jin-hyuk, who was about to reach out his own hand, stopped and thought about what Han Sang-jin had said to him.

Something felt strange.

In those words… he felt a sense of disparity.

Wait.

Wait!

‘Waiting for me to come?’

Only one examiner knew the actual result of the test. To the rest, he was just a regular F rank.

‘The lowest of the lowest in rank… did it make sense for the president to come here directly?’

Did it make sense?

This didn’t mean that the examiner had blabbed either. With the Stigma of the Soul engraved on him, he would have died if he had told someone the truth.

… this was interesting.

Did this mean that his man had prepared something which deceived the Eye of Truth?

Jin-hyuk smiled.

“Yah.”

“Uh? Why… are you suddenly talking like that?”

Han Sang-jin’s face became flustered. Well, someone was speaking rudely to him all of a sudden, so this reaction was expected.

But Jin-hyuk’s expression was cold.

“Stop acting clumsily and release the barrier right now.”

“What barrier…”

“Player Kang Jin-hyuk. What do you think you are doing to the president?”

“If I say it, will you stop pretending?”

Jin-hyuk smiled. He was used to walking down the dirty road and pulling someone down with him.

Jin-hyuk instantly pulled out his dagger and threw it at the ceiling.

Swish!

The dagger which flew through the air became lodged in the ceiling. To be precise, it was embedded in the ‘visible’ ceiling.

At that moment.

Psss!

The space distorted, and a gentle wave appeared on a transparent membrane surface.

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