In Hyukjin’s past, the Poisoned Dagger was the Ranker who had served as the Blood and Iron Queen’s close confidant and left hand. Jung Sangchul played a crucial role in assisting Song Junghye in the Naval Battle of Bali, and would continue to do so. As Hyukjin watched, that very same Player went on his knees in front of him.
Kneeling, Jung Sangchul bowed his head low.
“Please take me in.”
Hyukjin slowly pushed himself upright.
“What do you mean by this?”
“I will no longer serve Song Junghye.”
This hadn’t happened in the past.
“Song Junghye is a piece of trash who has no dignity as a human being.”
“Let’s be honest, I don’t think you’re one to say that.”
Jung Sangchul closed his mouth for a moment, then nodded.
“In front of the Guardian Tower, you attempted to kill the thief Gu Sungmin without hesitation, and if you hadn’t had a change of heart, you would have tried to kill me.”
“Yes. I have no excuse.”
“Not only that, but I imagine you’ve killed quite a few people.”
Hyukjin gave him a way out. “Granted, you did all that on orders.”
But even if he was following an order, it didn’t erase his sin. However, Hyukjin had no intention of weighing the other person’s sins. That job fell to the jury, not him.
“So what was it this time? An order to kill me?”
“She said I should kill you if I could find an opportunity to do so.”
“Then why are you on the ground?”
Jung Sangchul began his story. “One of my friends was almost killed by a Red Devil in the last battle. His name is Kim Sucheol.”
Kim Sucheol. Kim Sucheol. Kim Sucheol. Hyukjin scanned his memories, but he couldn’t remember anyone with that name. Who was Kim Sucheol?
“He’s a Blood and Iron Lion guild member.”
Kim Sucheol was likely someone who was either kicked out or killed in a raid before Blood and Iron Lion became famous, seeing as Hyukjin had zero recollection of him.
“So what does Kim Sucheol have to do with you coming to me?”
“Song Junghye told me to kill Sucheol.”
“Because she felt that her dignity was wounded because of Sucheol.”
Once Hyukjin heard the whole story, he understood the situation.
“Then she should punish Kang Woongmin—he’s the one who ignored her order. Why’d she go after the innocent Kim Sucheol?”
“Because we don’t know yet if Sucheol will be able to keep Playing. To Song Junghye, Sucheol is just a broken part to be replaced.”
Apparently, the man’s head was cut off and reattached.
‘In this period, it won’t be easy to recover from that.’
The priests weren’t at that level yet. Kim Sucheol was probably barely clinging to life.
‘And it’ll become even harder for him to make it big as a Player.’
That must be why Song Junghye tried to kill off someone who would ultimately become baggage to her. What Sangchul said about Song Junghye seeing the unfortunate man as a part to be replaced was probably true, too.
“Also, if Sucheol stays alive, she’ll have to give him a huge compensation.”
Hyukjin suddenly thought of his older sister. In the past, Ahyoung worked at Sungshin, at that time headed by Song Junghye. Be it coincidence or not, Ahyoung became sick with leukemia, and what she received as compensation was a pathetic pittance.
‘That wasn’t compensation, but ridicule.’
Instead of: ‘We sincerely apologize. We don’t know how to compensate you,’ what they got was, ‘Take this and get out of our sight, losers’. That was what it felt like.
‘She’s exactly the same as before.’
Hyukjin once again came to the conclusion that he’d done well to choose Song Kiyeol over Song Junghye.
“Is Song Junghye aware of the fact that you and Sucheol are friends?”
In other words—
“She doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the relationships between her subordinates, does she?”
Truth be told, there wasn’t really a reason for her to care. But if she was someone with half an eye and even a little interest in the people who were working for her, she should have at least known they were friends.
Considering she’d given an order to kill a friend, Jung Sangchul’s feelings were understandable.
“I guess you could kill strangers without blinking an eye, but you can’t kill a friend.”
“...This will sound like an excuse, but it wasn’t easy for me to kill strangers, either.”
He was telling the truth.
Summary: Poisoned Dagger Drowning in Guilt
Hyukjin nodded. “I understand your feelings. But I have no intention of expanding my guild any further.”
“I wouldn’t even dare to dream of that.”
“What is it that you want?”
“Please give me an order.”
“What kind of order?”
Jung Sangchul raised his head, looking straight into Hyukjin’s eyes.
“An order to kill Song Junghye. Please.”
* * *
Translator - Lei
Proofreader - Ash
* * *
Long story short, Kim Hyukjin didn’t accept Jung Sangchul’s request. It wasn’t like he was terribly fond of Song Junghye, but he didn’t want to commit murder by proxy.
“At least not now. It’s not the right time.”
“Jung Sangchul. You can simply stay by Song Junghye’s side, just as you’ve been doing.”
“...Are you telling me to be a spy?”
“I’m glad you’re quick on the uptake. Stay by her side and report each and every move she makes.” Hyukjin smiled. “Because I will make life far more painful for her than being killed now.”
Killing someone wasn’t always the answer. In addition, ‘Song Junghye’ had close ties to the ‘Great Explorer Jackson’. If he killed her now, that connection would be severed.
‘The Poisoned Dagger turned traitor?’
Had that also happened in the past?
‘The Sangam World Cup Stadium Dungeon break wasn’t supposed to happen.’
But it did, triggering incidents that hadn’t occurred before, including an incident that led to Jung Sangchul’s betrayal.
‘What an interesting turn of events.’
With this, he gained another card in his deck—the Poisoned Dagger Jung Sangchul. Now, it was up to him to decide how to make use of this card.
“Ah. You’ll also have to act like you killed Kim Sucheol. That way, you won’t lose Song Junghye’s trust.”
“I’ll take care of things on that end for you.”
After sending out Jang Sungchul, Hyukjin called Song Kiyeol. This was Sungshin Hospital, and everything was settled with lightning speed. As far as the official documents were concerned, Kim Sucheol was a dead man.
The night deepened, and the clock hit 11:30. Senia appeared.
“How long do you plan on laying in bed?”
“It’s only been two days.”
“You’re not going to Play?”
Her wings trembled. The angel seldom showed her feelings, but this time, he was able to skim her emotions.
There was still a big difference in skill between them, so he could only catch a surface glimpse. He could only read one word. ‘Anger’.
“Are you mad?”
“Me? I’m not mad at all.”
“I think you are though.”
“There’s no reason for me to be mad.”
Senia shuffled over to Kim Hyukjin, staring at him the entire time. Then, she pulled out an item.
“A Superior Cure Potion?”
“It should be able to cure your overwhelming fatigue.”
“Is an Intermediate Administrator allowed to give me this? Isn't this too direct an involvement?”
“I have a lot of Coins, so it’s okay.”
Direct involvement came with a high price tag. Senia was sure to have gouged a hefty chunk of her funds to give him this one item.
“Player Kim Hyukjin is my business partner. But you are currently unable to conduct business because of the condition of your body. Do you acknowledge that?”
It sort of felt like Senia was talking a bit faster than usual.
“Answer me. Do you acknowledge that?”
“This is an obvious loss on my part. I need to produce content, but how do you think I can do that if the person I’m streaming is in this sorry state?”
“You can just stream another Player.”
“How can you say such a sad th—!”
Senia swallowed her words.
‘Why would I say that?’
Why did she think it was sad? Exclusive contracts weren’t limited to one Player anyway. A Player in an exclusive contract could only be streamed by one Intermediate Administrator, but an Intermediate Administrator could make exclusive contracts with multiple Players.
“It’s not cost-effective to go with another Player.” She stuffed the superior potion in Hyukjin’s hands. “Using this one superior potion is far better than putting in the time and effort to dig up another Player and produce content with them.”
“Hurry and drink it and get to work.”
A little stupefied, Hyukjin laughed. He wouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth.
“I didn’t give it to you to get thanks. Work.”
Hyukjin used the superior potion. He felt the cracks in his second heart healing. As one would expect, for a level 39—no, level 44 now—Player, a superior potion was pretty much a miracle drug.
Even after drinking just one half of the vial, he made a full recovery.
‘I can let Kim Sucheol use the rest.’
Even half a vial would be able to drag Kim Sucheol back from death’s door. If someone were to ask Hyukjin why he would use such a valuable item on a stranger, he would have no answer to give. Perhaps because he was reminded of his sister?
He decided to help.
* * *
Fully recovered, Kim Hyukjin headed to Taeguk Shield’s headquarters. Song Kiyeol happened to be in his office, where the two of them sat face to face.
“I’ve come to give you a warning.”
“What is it…?”
Song Kiyeol gulped. People might think of him as the hero of Korea, but he knew he wasn’t the true hero. The true hero was in front of him, and that person was giving him a warning. It felt like all his hairs were standing on end.
“Miss Song Junghye. Her harassment towards me is still just cute, but…”
“She sent an assassin after me again. To be honest, it was almost dangerous.”
If Jung Sangchul hadn’t turned traitor, things might have gotten a little dicey. Just like how the healthy Kim Hyukjin was able to kill the exhausted casper, the healthy Jung Sangchul may have been able to kill the injured Kim Hyukjin.
Song Kiyeol felt his head reel.
‘Would he really have been in danger?’
He doubted it. He was certain Kim Hyukjin had some kind of countermeasure in place and led Junghye into doing exactly what he wanted. The person before him was none other than Kim Hyukjin, after all. As a result, Kim Hyukjin was now armed with a pretext.
“That’s why I sent a warning note.”
“A warning note?”
That moment, the office door flew open.
“Oppa! Do you know anything about—Kim Hyukjin?”
It seemed that even though Song Junghye normally snubbed her older brother, when shit went down, the only person she could turn to was her brother. She had a piece of paper in her hand.
–I’m watching. Tread carefully.
The note was found on Song Junghye’s bedpost, placed there by Kim Darong at Hyukjin’s request. Upon discovering it, the only thing Song Junghye could think was that anyone who could secretly place a note on her bedpost could just as easily assassinate her.
Song Junghye didn’t mince words.
“Kim Hyukjin. Was it you?”
“This note, did you put it there?”
“Who knows? It might have been me, it might have not been me.” As if something suddenly occurred to him, he said, “I do have an incredibly amazing assassin by my side.”
That ‘assassin’ was throwing air kicks and punches on top of Hyukjin’s shoulder right now, music notes dancing atop his head. Of course, the little squirrel was stealthed and couldn’t be seen by Song Junghye.
“So are you the one who sent it or not?”
“What’ll you do if I did?” He shook his head. “Even if it was me, there’s nothing you can do. And if it wasn’t me, then you’re just accusing someone with no evidence. How are you leading Blood and Iron Lion with such an empty head?”
“Are you done?” spat Song Junghye.
Hyukjin grinned. “If I were an assassin, I would have killed you in the time it took to send that note.”
Both of the Song siblings grew quiet, utterly crushed by Hyukjin’s Mettle. Even the doting Song Kiyeol was unable to interject.
“You know, I was going to take it as the actions of a foolish child.” Shaking his head, he said, “But children with no manners whatsoever need to be punished.”
He took a few steps closer to Song Junghye.
“I wonder where your next destination will be.”
Suddenly, his thoughts turned to his older sister again. If Sungshin had been under Song Kiyeol’s management instead, how would they have treated his sister? Sungshin had basically tossed her aside. Just like Blood and Iron Lion’s Kim Sucheol.
“You’re Kiyeol’s little sister, so I won’t kill you.”
Instead, he would squash her far more thoroughly, down to her very roots. The intel he received from Jung Sangchul said that Song Junghye’s next goal was a place Hyukjin had been considering going to, the ‘Nanba Terminal Dungeon’ in Japan.
“Say goodbye to your easy days of Playing, Song Junghye. I’ll put my mind to harassing you. Some people only see straight when they experience suffering first-hand.”
Following that heated exchange, Song Junghye stormed out of the room, swearing again and again to herself that she would kill that bastard.
Hyukjin turned to Song Kiyeol.
“I’m sorry, but I have no choice. Your sister is the one who sent an assassin after me first and tried to kill me by cooperating with China’s Xu Xin.”
“I know. I’m just grateful that you’re sparing her life.”
Song Kiyeol’s Achilles’ heel was his sister. Hyukjin wasn’t going to fault him for that. When it came to the complicated realm of feelings, there were definitely things in this world that couldn’t be explained logically.
“But… Are you going to Nanba Terminal just to harass Junghye?”
Song Kiyeol didn’t think that could be the case. The Kim Hyukjin he knew operated purely with an eye for practical benefits. He was absolutely not the kind of person to waste time just to annoy someone.
Before Hyukjin could answer, someone else entered his office.
“Would it be alright if I explained that?”
It was the Precognitive Dreamer Ham Sohyun, seated on a wheelchair. Hyukjin looked at the person who was pushing her wheelchair.
The Japanese astrologist Itachi and the Korean Precognitive Dreamer were together in one place. Both of them looked at Kim Hyukjin.
Upon seeing Hyukjin, Itachi’s eyes began to turn gold.