“A trivial skill called Flash Step,” Kim Hyukjin raised his sword.
“And a trivial skill called Beat ‘em, Beat ‘em, Beat ‘em Harder”
Lau Ding Xue screamed.
His shin bone shattered, Lau Ding Xue fell to the floor, clutching his leg.
But the speed at which Kim Hyukjin moved was faster than the speed at which Lau Ding Xue fell.
As Lau Ding Xue crumpled, Hyukjin moved to the spot where the Chinese Player would land.
He put away his overly powerful artifact and kicked Lau Ding Xue in the side.
Lau Ding Xue coughed violently, each cough causing a spike of agony.
‘My ribs… are broken.’
It felt like the fractured pieces were poking into his lungs.
“Hah… hah…!” He gasped, struggling to draw breath.
After just two hits, Lau Ding Xue was exhausted.
‘That was really easy.’
His Playing had been a series of one difficult clear after another.
Easy, intermission content like this was necessary from time to time, too.
But at the same time, there were Guardians who would oppose beating up randoms for no reason.
‘Moderation is always best.’
Even when beating someone up, it was best to do it with an appropriate justification.
“Why’d you do it” asked Hyukjin.
“Wh-What” Lau Ding Xue gasped from the ground, unable to get up.
“Why is a human eating another human”
“I-I’ve never done anyth—UAGHH!”
Hyukjin gave him zero mercy.
It was hard to judge whether this man was more evil than Seo Joohwan, the other Demon King Army lieutenant Hyukjin had sent to his death, but Lau Ding Xue was certainly no saint.
Hyukjin pressed down on Lau Ding Xue’s chest with his right foot.
“You know, I hate liars the most.”
He slowly put more strength in his foot.
Lau Ding Xue was struck with the terrible sensation of his chest caving in.
He was scared.
At this rate, all his ribs would break, and his heart would be crushed by that merciless foot.
You killed her.”
Lau Ding Xue’s eyes grew wide.
‘Yang Yang’, a girl in her late teens living in Jilin province, was the first girl Lau Ding Xue killed.
“How do I know that”
‘Man, this is EZPZ.’
A simple leading question was all it took.
“There are no secrets in the world.”
“I-I-I was wrong!”
Hyukjin let up, and Lau Ding Xue swiftly went onto his knees, desperately rubbing his palms.
“I-If you let me live, I’ll do anything.”
“Who sent you”
His forehead pressed to the ground, Lau Ding Xue considered how he should respond.
Hyukjin crouched down.
“Forget trying any stunts.”
He didn’t give Lau Ding Xue any time to think.
Hyukjin used Mettle to pressure the other man, who promptly lost all composure and blabbered everything truthfully.
“Bl-Blood and Iron Lion’s Guildmaster Song Junghye and Master Xu Xin.”
“Really So Song Junghye is ‘Guildmaster’, and Xu Xin is ‘Master’” That meant the trap mage was in Xu Xin’s employ.
“So Xu Xin’s behind this.
What’s your relationship with him”
“I-I’m simply a hired mercenary.”
“Mercenary, my ass.
You’re a contract killer.”
“Th-That is correct.
Please, spare me.
If you spare my life, I’ll be a good person from now on, I swear!”
The reason Hyukjin knew about Yang Yang was simple.
Hyukjin was a regressor, and the future Lau Ding Xue became a lieutenant of the Demon King Army.
The Cannibal Trap Mage said the following:
–I still can’t forget my first prey, Yang Yang.
That experience… was ecstasy.
Hyukjin thought for a moment.
‘But… were Xu Xin and Lau Ding Xue connected’
He sifted through his memories.
It was related to China and not Korea, so he didn’t know that much.
But he didn’t remember anything about the two being connected.
‘First of all, Xu Xin thoroughly hid the fact that he was a Player.’
Hyukjin didn’t know why.
‘And it was never revealed that Xu Xin was Lau Ding Xue’s employer.’
Lau Ding Xue’s sole ticket to infamy was the Demon King Army.
There was nothing about him and Xu Xin, at least as far as Hyukjin could remember.
Do you know the Demon King”
“Th-The Demon King”
Lau Ding Xue wanted to blurt out that the person in front of him was a demon king, but he couldn’t say that.
He racked his brains, trying to recall anything about the term, but came up empty.
“What about Kang Sun-il”
“It’s my first time hearing that name.”
Lau Ding Xue was a lieutenant of the Demon King Army but didn’t know the Demon King
‘Well, I guess it’s possible they haven’t met yet.’
It continued to strike him as odd.
Would the Demon King Hyukjin met really have picked up trash like these guys and cobbled them into the Demon King Army
‘I don’t think so.’
The more he thought about it, the stranger it became.
It felt like… secrets the world hadn’t known were bubbling beneath the surface.
Hyukjin took out Isabel, then swung without hesitation.
Lau Ding Xue’s scream split the air as both of his arms flopped to the ground, severed at the shoulder.
Even though no sword skills were used, the cuts were clean.
“Guess you won’t be able to use Mana Hell ever again.”
The stronger the magician, the stronger a Mana Hell they could set up… if they had arms.
Curious about how I endured your Mana Hell”
Lau Ding Xue’s face was ghostly white—his body was in shock.
He couldn’t utter a single word, but that didn’t matter.
What Hyukjin was saying now wasn’t meant for his ears, but the ears of the Guardians.
“I can turn all the mana around me into my own.”
Even if it wasn’t the mana of a trap.
“Thanks to my innate ability, Assimilation.”
* * *
Shobidobi, who was in invisible mode along with Senia, snipped loudly.
Snip! Snip! Snip!
Doesn’t Assimilation have a cooldown I saw a cooldown in the footage I got from you.”
“Focus on the Play.”
Shobidobi resumed his snipping.
Seeing as Senia didn’t say anything about the cooldown, there was something more at play.
For Shobidobi, that was fantastic.
Because to an editor, that was foreshadowing material.
Snip! Snip! Snip!
“Inspiration has struck!”
He really was inspired.
This Kim Hyukjin was truly incredible.
He had a knack for spinning the story along while keeping you hooked and curious, then answering your questions at the end in one satisfying swoop.
And with just a few words, at that! It made Shobidobi think that Kim Hyukjin was a genius producer.
Snip! Snip! Snip!
“I think I can get a great intro from this.”
The concept of ‘editing’ was not yet fully established, but Shobidobi grasped the new art by instinct.
“What was this called again” He vaguely remembered there was a human term for this.
Shobidobi mused, then cried out in realization.
“I should be able to get a satisfying thumbnail here.”
* * *
Translator - Lei
Proofreader - Ash
* * *
Gwanghwamun D-Tower, 2F.
There, the Chinese Players waited for Lau Ding Xue.
They had used mana stones to erect a Mana Hell, so they thought all that was left to do was to collect Kim Hyukjin’s corpse.
An unfamiliar voice shattered their wishful thoughts.
“No one can come up here because Blood and Iron Lion is blocking it off, right”
The Chinese Players gaped in shock.
The person who crashed to the ground with a wet squelch wasn’t Kim Hyukjin, but Lau Ding Xue, now reduced to a bloody, half-dead mess.
“He’s not dead, so save him if you want.”
His life as a Player was over anyway.
A trap mage who couldn’t use their arms could no longer be considered one.
‘He’ll probably be killed by Xu Xin anyway.’
He decided not to waste energy worrying about that.
The man was a cannibal who already had a lot of blood on his hands.
He even tried to kill Hyukjin with Mana Hell.
So despite knowing that Lau Ding Xue would be discarded by Xu Xin if he went back in this state, Hyukjin didn’t pay it any heed.
“I’m not big on pointless killing,” said Hyukjin.
The person who looked to be the most superior of the lot shouted, “Did you think we’d let you go after doing such a thing”
“Let me go Even Mana Hell didn’t work.
What do you plan on doing now”
“Sorry, but you’ll have to die here.”
“You probably blocked this area off to do just that.”
Just in case Mana Hell failed.
‘Song Junghye probably assigned forces of her own.’
If she was smart, she would have recalled her men.
He would just have to wait and see what choice she made.
“If you try to kill me,” Hyukjin began, pulling out Isabel.
“Then I’ll have no choice but to kill you.”
He was utterly at ease.
The Chinese Players in front of him were in their early to mid-level 30s.
They weren’t exactly masters, but they weren’t beginners, either.
And yet, they weren’t threatening in the least to Hyukjin.
After meeting colossi like the Fire Giants and whalekin, these guys looked like little kids.
The ten-odd Chinese Players surrounded Kim Hyukjin.
“So you’ve decided to fight me”
“Drop the act.
There’s no doubt you’re completely exhausted.”
He was in tip top shape, much less exhausted.
“You guys are seriously the type to see what you wanna see and believe what you wanna believe, aren’t you”
Holding Isabel, Hyukjin looked casually around.
‘It’s about time for them to show up.’
Kang Somyi had taken action earlier.
Since he dragged things out long enough in the Mana Hell, Song Kiyeol must have gotten word, and the members of Giantgod would have mobilized.
Hyukjin cocked his finger.
“Well, come at me then.”
It was exactly at that moment that the escalator leading to the 2nd floor was used.
If someone came up despite Blood and Iron Lion’s blockade, then it could only be Taeguk Shield or Giantgod.
A voice rang out.
“What’s going on right now, exactly” It was Shin Yeonseo.
She whipped out Asura.
“What were you guys planning on doing, surrounding our boss like that”
So Yoohyun cracked his neck.
Shall I punch the living daylights out of these guys”
“Is it time for the Jayangdong Fire Master to shine Huhuhu.”
Choi Sung-gu was raring to go, his confidence boosted to the max in front of these obviously weaker people.
He didn’t hide in the back.
Next to him, Jo Sunghyun cooly surveyed the area, and Kim Sunhwa summoned a large white shield.
“Who are all these people” she asked.
Song Kiyeol didn’t even prepare for battle.
It was unofficial, but Korea’s strongest forces were here.
There was no need to summon his shield.
Did you leave these people alive on purpose”
There’s a lot to gain, after all.”
If he wanted them dead, he would have already ended them.
But killing wasn’t always everything.
“The mastermind is Xu Xin And...” Hyukjin paused.
“This is also connected to Miss Song Junghye.”
“She tried to kill me.”
Hyukjin stared hard at Song Kiyeol, his eyes clearly asking if the other man would protect his little sister even now.
Song Kiyeol looked away.
“Junghye… will need to be punished.”
She had crossed a forbidden line, a line she shouldn’t have crossed—she had tried to murder someone in the Tutorial Building.
That was unforgivable, no matter how much Song Kiyeol doted on his little sister.
His lips curling into a smile, Hyukjin said, “That’s true, but there’s no physical proof that these people have any connection to Miss Song.”
“It means there’s nothing we can do this time.”
“Do you mean that you will overlook it this time”
“Yes.” The smile remained on Hyukjin’s face.
“I have a feeling things will develop even more if I let her be.”
The rice was still uncooked.
Only by opening the rice cooker once each grain was a perfectly cooked, gleaming pearl could one produce the most delicious rice.
“For now, let’s clean up shop.”
* * *
Giantgod took action, their movements crisp.
The guildmaster of Taeguk Shield, Song Kiyeol, lamented in silence.
‘The members of Giantgod… are at least two, three times more skilled than Taeguk Shield.’
He once again personally confirmed that they were Korea’s strongest force.
They captured everyone alive.
“I’ll leave taking care of these guys to Taeguk Shield.
It’s pointless to hand them over to the police anyway.
I trust you’ll handle things nicely.”
Hyukjin set off.
He was glad to see his guild members, but there was something else he had to do.
He immediately went to see Song Kiyoung, who Hyukjin found sitting in his office.
“I heard the report.
Xu Xin caused a mess”
He tried to kill me.”
“Thanks to all the reporters swarming the place, China’s been put in a pretty embarrassing position.
They’ve drawn a clear line, saying that Xu Xin’s outburst has absolutely nothing to do with China.
They fell right into someone’s trap.”
Even China could not protect Xu Xin, which put the billionaire into a very uncomfortable situation.
Song Kiyeol continued.
“But from what I’m told, the person who made that trap spared all the prey and turned them over to us.”
“That’s because I heard negotiations with China are difficult these days.”
“Is this meant to be a card to pressure Xu Xin with”
Publicly, China drew a line between the country and Xu Xin, but pressuring Xu Xin could send ripples throughout China as well.
Both Song Kiyoung and Kim Hyukjin were well aware of that.
“Think of it as a little gift from me.”
CEO Song laughed heartily.
“Young man, do you have any wish to try your hand at being a Sungshin board member”
“I have little aptitude for being a salaryman.”
“Then how about becoming my successor What about being a chaebol by profession”
“There are too many things to attend to as a chaebol, so no thanks.”
Song Kiyoung looked straight at Kim Hyukjin.
What a fascinating, fascinating person.
“And now I’ve gladly accepted your gift for pressuring Xu Xin, but is that all”
“No, there’s something else.”
“It’s more important, I assume”
Song Kiyoung’s expression grew serious.
Kim Hyukjin gave a gift first, so his side needed to prepare a gift of equivalent value.
That was how highly Song Kiyoung judged Kim Hyukjin.
“What is it”
Hyukjin’s answer was completely outside of CEO Song’s expectations.
“I happen to have a bit of stock in a certain mercenary company.”