Chapter 91. Midnight Visitor (1)

Seo Jun-Ho had been walking to Shim Deok-Gu’s office when he saw Cha Si-Eun coming out. 

Huh? Why are you here?” Seo Jun-Ho asked.

Ack! J-Jun-Ho-nim?” She looked like a deer in the headlights, as if she’d been caught doing something she wasn’t supposed to do. Cha Si-Eun covered her mouth as she hiccuped, while Seo Jun-Ho studied her with narrowed eyes. “...I’m getting deja vu.”

When he woke up after fighting the Cinder Fox, she had the same expression. 

‘That hospital was really good. I was in great condition when I came to, like I’d taken a panacea or something.’

It was the most thorough treatment he had ever received. He didn’t know the healer, but someone with that level of skill should’ve been famous. 

Cha Si-Eun cleared her throat. “I was called to help with some documents.”

“Why would he ask you, though…?” Seo Jun-Ho doubted.

“I-I’m not sure.” Cha Si-Eun hesitated.

“I’ll make sure this doesn’t happen again,” Seo Jun-Ho said.

Um, that’s…” She squeezed her eyes shut and bowed her head. “Alright…”

“Your shift’s already over. You should go home.” He saw her off before going into the office. 

Hm? Did you leave something… Oh! It’s you!” Shim Deok-Gu’s face brightened when he saw Seo Jun-Ho coming in. 

“Hey. Why are you ordering around my secretary?” Seo Jun-Ho asked with narrowed eyes.

“What? I haven’t seen you in three months, dude.”

“Secretary Cha told me that you asked her to help with some documents.”

Ah.” Shim Deok-Gu caught on and nodded. He recalled her request to keep her resignation a secret. 

“You weren’t pushing her around while I was gone, were you?” Seo Jun-Ho asked again.

“No. It was time-sensitive, so I just asked for her help,” Shim Deok-Gu responded.

“Well, that’s fine then.” Seo Jun-Ho shrugged.

Shim Deok-Gu must have been dying to ask him questions because he started asking nonstop. “How was the Gate? Since it took you three months in the real world, was it a lot longer inside?”

“It was almost four months.”

“Wow, it must’ve been hard.” He could tell because of Seo Jun-Ho’s shaggy beard and hair. Shim Deok-Gu looked around and asked, “Is the Frost Queen...I mean, is Frost Queen-nim not here today?”

“She’s watching movies at home,” Seo Jun-Ho responded.

“...How interesting. She likes to watch TV?”

“That’s all she ever does. All day.” He spoke like a parent and sighed as he tapped his Vita. “I came to say hi, and to give you these.”

“What is that?” Shim Deok-Gu studied the six hologram files before him. “History of Religions...Frontier Monsters...Important Families and Nobles…?” He casually flipped through the files before suddenly realizing what he was looking at. He began to look through the documents faster, and checked all six files before asking, “What the hell is this?”

“Out of alllll~ the guilds, these are copies of reports from the six amazing, greatest, legendary Guilds.”

“Wait, this is from the Big 6?! Why did they give you all this?”

Huh? Did I not tell you?” Thinking back, it seemed like Seo Jun-Ho hadn’t told him about it yet, so he began explaining the contract he had made with the Big 6.

“...Wow, you sneaky bastard. I bet you’d be able to sell even hand warmers in the desert.”

“Of course. I’d sell ice cream in Antarctica too.” He jutted his chin toward the hologram. 

Shim Deok-Gu sighed when he was done skimming them. “I thought that we’d caught up with them, but it turns out that we still have a long way to go.”

“Well, at least you have a concrete goal. That’ll keep you motivated. How’s the Association doing?”

“We’ve been recruiting Players on the 2nd floor, and we’ve reorganized our information structure.”

“Good. A different approach could be better. How is it?”

“It’s whatever. Just like most of the other Guilds, we’re raising our strength in the remote areas. Well… All the main cities have been taken over, so it’s a bit of a hindrance.” He sounded frustrated; things didn’t seem to be going the way he wanted. 

“Well, they’ve been at it for 25 years. We can’t catch up in one day.” If they wanted to, they would have to achieve something great enough to make up for the lost time. “We could make a big contribution to a war…”

“It’s not that easy. The Empire controls most of the Frontier. It doesn’t have any enemies.”

“You never know.” Seo Jun-Ho shrugged. 

His face was strangely serious as he leaned in. “Deok-Gu. I’m going to the 2nd floor in a week.”

“...Yeah.” Shim Deok-Gu swallowed. He knew this would happen since the day his friend woke up and decided to become a Player again. But he still couldn’t help feeling a bit sad. “I’m sorry. If I had just managed to expand our influence a bit...We’d be able to support you on the 2nd floor.”

“You’ve done enough for me already.” Seo Jun-Ho meant it. If Shim Deok-Gu hadn’t pushed him physically and mentally and hadn’t helped him as much as he had done, it would have been much harder for him to return. “Thanks to you, I have a new reputation and a new Player license. You gave me all that equipment and a flat. I wouldn’t have been able to grow this fast if it weren’t for you. Your support was more than I could ever ask for.”

“Bastard…” Shim Deok-Gu’s chest tightened. His friend was going to fight in a place he couldn’t reach. It would be a lonely journey since he didn’t even have his former comrades as they were still frozen solid. 

“Don’t worry too much. And if I meet Arthur, I’ll tell him the news.”

“Oh, I almost forgot. Take this.” As soon as Gilberto’s one and only son came up, Shim Deok-Gu pulled out a piece of paper. On it was an unfamiliar town and address. “This is where he lives. Go find him and help him out, won’t you?”

Oooh, thanks.” Seo Jun-Ho took it into his hands. 

“But… Are you going to go to him as Seo Jun-Ho, or as Specter?”

Hmmm.” It was a good question. The 5 Heroes and Shim Deok-Gu had all cared for Arthur, but he had only been three years old back then.

“...He probably won’t even remember my face, right?”

“If he could, he would’ve contacted you already. You’re always on the news.” 

“True.” Seo Jun-Ho looked down at the memo. “I’ll think about it.”

“Do what you think is best.”

Their conversation ended there, and Seo Jun-Ho stood. “I’m off. I have to memorize all the information the Big 6 gave me.”

“I’m not seeing you out.” Shim Deok-Gu waved his hand.

Seo Jun-Ho exited the office and went not to the 77th floor, but down to the 1st floor to buy some energy drinks and onigiri. He would need something to help him get through the night. 

***

A man sat on the roof of a building as he downed his bread and milk. He wore a thick hoodie as he looked out into the Seoul nightscape.

“...”

To be exact, he was looking at the entrance to the Player Association building, 5 kilometers away. The man with keen eyesight was none other than Kal Signer. 

“Dammit, I already checked that he left the Gate.”

Last night, the internet had exploded with the news that Seo Jun-Ho managed to clear the Gate and was now back in the Association. Of course, Kal Signer had been suspicious at first. He questioned whether it was fake but once he saw photographic proof, he became certain. 

Ever since then, he had been waiting on the roof. 

I looked all over while he was gone for three months. This is the best location.’ 

Once Seo Jun-Ho left the building, he would see him come out almost immediately. 

“Dammit…” Kal Signer scowled. He hadn’t been living like a human for the last few months, so he was filthy all over and was carrying with him a horrible stench. 

It couldn’t be helped. Unlike the Frontier, he couldn’t go about as he pleased, especially in a country with so many CCTVs like Korea. 

“Seo Jun-Ho… If I can just catch him…” 

He would be able to live a luxurious life as a fiend once again. Longing for that life, he waited for Seo Jun-Ho to leave the building. Just as it became night and the temperature had started to drop and just as his skin tingled… 

“Finally.” 

His eyes filled with joy. He had imagined this scene playing out in his dreams countless times. 

Seo Jun-Ho. 

His target stepped out of the building with a mask on. 

“You can’t fool my eyes with such a weak disguise.” He cackled as he leaped off the roof. He started running toward Seo Jun-Ho. 

***

“That’ll be 19,400 won.”

“How much are the Sweet ‘n Sours?”[1]

“1,000 won.”

Geez, inflation went up a lot.” He bought the candy and walked out of the convenience store. 

A stray cat near the entrance looked up at him with big eyes, purring. 

“I didn’t get anything for you.” As soon as he said that, it sauntered away into an alley. 

“Even the cats are smart nowadays.” He smiled and turned back toward the Association. 

Suddenly, he heard a cat’s scream. 

“...?” He turned around and tapped his Vita as he walked toward the alley. He used the flashlight app to scan the area. 

Blood! 

The cat was trembling on the ground as it bled out. When he ran toward it, he sensed someone's presence behind him. 

Shing! 

He pulled out Black Dragon Fang in an instant and pointed it at the stranger. 

Woah, woah, woah, calm down.” The man was wearing a thick hood, and his voice was neutral. There was a stench around him, but his movements were light. 

‘He’s a Player. A strong one at that.’

Seo Jun-Ho’s eyes narrowed. A dark alleyway with a bleeding cat, and a suspicious person that was blocking the way. There was only one reason why this was happening. 

“What do you want?”

Wow, you catch on quick. You’re not like the other newbies.” The man chuckled as a blood-red and maroon large bow appeared in his hands. “Shall we go somewhere more suitable? I don’t think you want to fight here either.”

“...” Seo Jun-Ho pulled out a potion from his inventory and poured it on the cat. It didn’t heal it completely, but the cat purred before running away in the opposite direction. 

He turned back to the stranger. “Final Horizon. It was originally meant for sniping.”

“Impressive.” The man, Kal Signer, seemed amused. He didn’t think that any 1st floor Player, let alone Seo Jun-Ho, would recognize his weapon. 

“As the name implies, it’s a Unique-grade bow that can hit a target at the end of the horizon… You must have made a mistake. You can’t create enough distance, and you appeared right in front of your opponent.”

“Well, you’d normally be correct.” It would be stupid to do that if the enemy was as strong as he was. But Kal Signer thought that he would be able to beat the likes of Seo Jun-Ho even in close combat.

As such, Kal Signer jutted his chin. “You should move while I’m being nice. If you don’t want other people to die, that is.” It wouldn’t be good for himself either. It wouldn’t matter if his mission was to kill Seo Jun-Ho, but he was supposed to capture him. 

“...” It was strange that the notorious Kal Signer was making such a proposal. There must be a reason why he couldn’t attack carelessly. 

‘Well, it doesn’t matter.’ 

Seo Jun-Ho’s inventory hummed as if one of the weapons inside was laughing. 

‘I think I’ll be able to fulfill my promise faster than I thought, Tushar Vishi.’ 

Seo Jun-Ho lowered his sword. “Lead the way. I’ll let you choose your grave.”

Hah. Follow me.” Kal Signer snorted before dashing forward. Seo Jun-Ho closely followed.


1. Korean candy similar to ‘Now and Later’ or ‘hi-chew’

Previous Chapter Next Chapter