Episode 113

Snatching The Chance (3)
1 week ago
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It was Jang Si-hwan.

Kang-hoo was momentarily surprised but quickly grasped the significance of this situation.

“This guy. He sent his guild members to the front lines and sneaked into the dungeon to reap the rewards.”

Kang-hoo’s contemptuous gaze was hidden behind an expressionless face, directed at Jang Si-hwan.

Jang Si-hwan is an exceptionally skilled black mage, so much so that calling him ‘skilled’ would be an understatement.

He’s a multi-talented individual, proficient in black magic and spatial skills, similar to Kang-hoo, who isn’t limited to just the assassin job class.

With his abilities, it would have been easy for him to control the minds of all hunters stationed near the dungeon entrance.

Hence, he could have entered the dungeon without anyone realizing it. Probably, even the memories of the hunters guarding it would have no recollection of him entering.

Just as Kang-hoo had prepared for unexpected mental attacks when he approached Yu Cheonghwa, he did the same now.

Although Jang Si-hwan hadn’t attempted anything yet, Kang-hoo couldn’t afford to let his guard down.

Complacency often leads to unexpected problems arising from where one least expects it. It’s a timeless truth.

Contrary to his feelings, Kang-hoo spoke to Jang Si-hwan in a calm, collected manner.

“Pleased to meet you.”

“You managed to enter the dungeon quite well. Everyone else seems to be turning back. Didn’t anyone stop you?”

Jang Si-hwan’s words implied that despite the Jeonghwa Guild’s guards at the entrance, how did Kang-hoo manage to deceive them and get in.

“Since I entered without anyone noticing, naturally, there was no one to stop me.”

“Oh? I see. Relax for now. I’m not asking to interrogate you.”

Jang Si-hwan shrugged his shoulders.

Meanwhile, he was recalling his memories of Kang-hoo, or rather, the lookout, recalling the first unusual meeting.

While scrutinizing the CCTV footage surrounding the Gong Tae-su incident, he spotted a figure heading towards the rooftop of the building. It was Kang-hoo.

Jang Si-hwan still didn’t know Kang-hoo’s name, but the location triggered memories of their memorable first encounter.

In the CCTV recording, Kang-hoo was seen following the same route as Gong Tae-su’s bus on the building’s rooftop.

However, this observation alone wasn’t sufficient to conclude that Kang-hoo was the one responsible for severing Gong Tae-su’s left arm.

During that period, numerous mercenaries were after Gong Tae-su due to the ‘fireworks.’

“Master K mentioned that Jang Si-hwan is keen on identifying the assailant who targeted Gong Tae-su.”

As Kang-hoo locked eyes with Jang Si-hwan, he organized his thoughts.

If Jang Si-hwan had been examining the site of Gong Tae-su’s assault…

It was probable that he got caught somewhere.

Even without direct proof of his involvement in Gong Tae-su’s attack, his face might have been captured by a nearby observer.

Jang Si-hwan was shrewd.

He could be fully aware of everything and just pretend otherwise, or act oblivious to subtly extract information.

The persona of Jang Si-hwan was one that Kang-hoo had affectionately crafted before transforming into ‘Shin Kang-hoo’ in this accursed world.

Wasn’t he the main character in the original narrative?

That’s why Kang-hoo couldn’t afford to be careless. This individual was another version of ‘me,’ and thus, an astute one.

Kang-hoo remarked.

“Yes. I entered with a focus on a specific market segment. It’s a rare opportunity, after all.”

“I had the same idea. Technically, this dungeon isn’t under anyone’s ownership, correct?”

“Currently, that’s true.”

His response hinted that the dungeon would soon fall under the Jeonghwa Guild’s control.

Jang Si-hwan’s slightly tense expression eased upon Kang-hoo’s tacit acknowledgment.

The reddish tint in Jang Si-hwan’s eyes softened, yet with a subtle sharpness disguised as gentleness, he scrutinized Kang-hoo.

“When coincidences pile up, interest tends to grow where there was none before.”

The lookout, and now, the dungeon.

This was already the second unexpected meeting between Kang-hoo and Jang Si-hwan.

Considering he had directly gathered information about the incident involving Gong Tae-su…

Jang Si-hwan and his intersections now numbered three times. By this point, they would definitely be etched in each other’s memories.

【Overwhelming power indeed.】
【A worthy opponent stands behind the contractor in front of us. It won't be easy.】
【The great battlefield is indeed narrow.】

The Dimension Plunderer, Disaster – Darkness, and Strategist of the Wasteland each shared their impressions about Jang Si-hwan.

It was rare for them to express admiration, indicating they were feeling tense.

Then,

“Would you like one?”

Jang Si-hwan offered Kang-hoo an energy bar he pulled from his pocket.

In the original story, Jang Si-hwan frequently ate energy bars, his favorite snack, so it was natural he’d brought some with him.

‘Combine this with a dalgona latte, and you have Jang Si-hwan’s happy snack combination.’

It was a clear memory.

Wasn’t Jang Si-hwan the one who knew more about himself than he did?

“I won’t decline.”

Kang-hoo accepted the energy bar, tore open the wrapper, and chewed it thoughtfully.

It tasted really good.

“You and I are alike.”

“Excuse me?”

“In the way we eat, not enjoying the taste.”

Jang Si-hwan laughed.

Seeing each other, it did seem they were both nibbling unenthusiastically.

Just by looking at their expressions, one might think they were eating reluctantly, just to survive.

Jang Si-hwan, unlike the characteristically dysfunctional Chae Gwanhyeong and Shin Tae-seok, clearly had manners.

Of course, this personality was carefully crafted in the original story.

He was friendly, kind, took good care of those around him, and wanted to help those in trouble.

He had the personality of a typical hero character. However, everything was ruined in the ending.

If one were to interpret this behavior, tracing back from the ending, it could also be seen as a perfect pretense.

Behind a smiling face, no one knows what’s hidden. Only he would know.

While finishing the remaining half of the energy bar, Jang Si-hwan changed the topic to a more direct question.

“What do you think about the Osan suppression?”

“I don’t have any thoughts on it. It’s someone else’s business for a wanderer like me.”

“So, it doesn’t matter to you who wins?”

“The guild that wins is just. Justice is a luxury for the losing guild.”

At those words, Jang Si-hwan’s eyes briefly flashed with interest before returning to normal. Kang-hoo noticed the change.

It must have been an interesting answer. Typically, people would offer more principle-based statements in front of Jang Si-hwan.

Like wishing for the Jeonghwa Guild’s victory because they represent justice… nonsense.

Kang-hoo simply recognized and spoke about the reality influenced by the logic of power, not offering unconditional praise.

“What an enlightening answer.”

Clap, clap, clap.

Jang Si-hwan applauded, either impressed by the response or perhaps sarcastically.

Either way, that concluded the brief meeting and snack time with Jang Si-hwan.

Contrary to worries about being treated as an unwelcome guest and potential problems, nothing happened.

And then, Jang Si-hwan headed west, opposite to Kang-hoo’s direction.

It seemed today was not the day for destiny to find him.

Kang-hoo, having encountered Jang Si-hwan inside the dungeon, wanted to secure his fate a bit more quickly and thus began moving east again.


Since conquering the dungeon wasn’t his main objective, Kang-hoo only dealt with monsters that were in his way as he moved.

Still, since the monsters were rich in experience points, he enjoyed significant growth.

When Kang-hoo arrived at the designated spot, he successfully reached level 101.

During his journey, Kang-hoo managed to defeat a Goblin Mid-Boss, who was swinging its axe with great flair. Despite being a rather insignificant creature with a forgettable name, as a Mid-Boss, it bestowed upon him a skill.

【Gourmet of the Rotten】
【Skill Proficiency: Lv. Max】
【A skill that makes even spoiled food taste delicious.】

“Considering this as a skill… Well, finding pleasure in spoiled food is a unique ability since it’s not something most can do.”

Kang-hoo chuckled while inspecting the Gourmet of the Rotten skill he had gained from the Goblin Mid-Boss.

He couldn’t help but question if this skill truly belonged on his list.

The issue with spoiled food isn’t consuming it; it’s the aftermath.

Nevertheless, upon reaching his destination, Kang-hoo diligently surveyed the area.

【The mountain peak resembled a scissor shape formed by the thumb and index finger in a game of rock-paper-scissors.

Near this distinct peak, hidden among the thorns, Jang Si-hwan stumbled upon something out of the ordinary.

It was a location he wouldn’t typically explore, but that day proved to be exceptionally fortuitous.】

The description in the original text perfectly mirrored the scenery before him.

The journey was swift.

Although the thorny area had a somewhat cliff-like terrain, making it challenging to access on foot,

Kang-hoo possessed enough strength to cling to rocks and crevices, making it manageable.

Rustle. Rustle-rustle.

As he slowly cleared the thorns with his dagger, a transparent, shimmering space came into view.

It was a sight entirely divergent from the dungeon’s mountain setting.

‘Jang Si-hwan found a yellow stone at this spot.’

Inside,

Rainbow-colored stones floated around, resembling a zero-gravity environment.

In the original story, Jang Si-hwan, unaware of the place’s nature, randomly picked up a nearby stone.

It happened to be a yellow stone.

However, to Kang-hoo, who was well-versed in the magic stone hierarchy, the stones held different meanings.

Knowing that red magic stones were the most precious, he assumed the red stones here would be of utmost value.

Consequently, they were located farthest away.

‘No matter which stone I choose, it seems it will greatly benefit me.’

A space destined by fate.

It was designed so that any choice would lead to a gain.

Yet, Kang-hoo could only recall the fate linked to the yellow stone.

The rest might just be subconscious manifestations. The nature of this subconscious would have to be explored by delving into it.

“Huh.”

After taking a deep breath,

With his body tensed, Kang-hoo bravely entered the transparent space without hesitation.

‘Just as I thought.’

The surroundings transformed.

He found himself in the heart of the universe.

Surrounded by countless stars, galaxies, and uniquely shaped nebulae, the profound darkness was visible.

In the original story, Jang Si-hwan was mesmerized by this sight, losing track of time.

【The order of the Grand Battle must be preserved. We shall promptly eradicate this tainted space.】

An unfamiliar voice echoed. While the speaker was insignificant, the message was crucial.

Kang-hoo dashed towards the red stone with all his might. Despite the absence of solid ground, he sprinted.

He employed every skill at his disposal, including leaps and acceleration. That was the distance to the red stone.


In the silent emptiness of space, the area swiftly faded away.

Everything distorted and vanished as if being drawn into a black hole, a terrifying spectacle.

It was a narrow escape.

The speed at which space collapsed nearly matched Kang-hoo’s velocity towards the red stone.

Failing to grasp the stone would render his attempt to alter Jang Si-hwan’s destiny futile.

‘Just a bit more.’

He clenched his teeth.

He needed to outpace the collapsing velocity. Further, farther, just a tad more. He pushed through, enduring excruciating pain.

And then.

Snap!

The instant Kang-hoo’s hand closed around the red stone,

“…!”

He was engulfed by the collapsing space.

Abruptly, he found himself back in front of the thorny bushes, clutching the stone tightly.

The stone then disintegrated into a handful of ashes, transforming into something entirely new.

It materialized into a sheet of paper.

A peculiar document densely packed with unfamiliar content.

【Twisted Contract】

An enigmatic contract materialized, its purpose utterly inscrutable.

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