Murim Login (Novel) Chapter 279


Chapter 279

[Jin Tae-Kyung]

The name glowed starkly on the screen.

Entranced, Park Ji-Hwang's finger hovered over the call icon, only to be jarred by an abrupt reprimand.

"I told you to listen! Put that blasted device down and pay attention. Are you deaf?"

"…No. I hear you."

Park Ji-Hwang darkened his screen and sank heavily into his seat, meeting the fiery gaze of Park Tae-Seop.

"Wasn't it enough for you to kill a Team Leader without permission?" [Note: This is a continuation from the last chapter. Park Tae-Seop is questioning why Park Ji-Hwang is causing more problems. Essentially, he is asking "Wasn't killing Jeong Hyeon-Woo enough for you? Why are you now after Jin Tae-Kyung's life?"]

"That issue has been addressed. Hasn't 'He' reached out to the Guild Master directly, seeking reconciliation?"

"Reconciliation? Or intimidation?"

"'He' would be disappointed to hear you say that."

"What in the world do you have against Jin Tae-Kyung and the Peace Guild to even involve the Black Hunters..."

"That's enough."

Park Ji-Hwang cut him off.

"There's no need for you to know more than you should."

"...!"

"Isn't it more important that the Guild Master accepted the proposal? Whether it was readily agreed to or coerced, the result is what's important, not the process."

"And did you achieve this result that was so important?"

A dangerous glint appeared in Park Ji-Hwang's eyes. He'd grown accustomed to Park Tae-Seop's veiled criticisms, but direct confrontation was new.

What had triggered this?

"We should end this argument here. What happened?"

Breathing heavily, eyes alight with urgency, Park Tae-Seop revealed,

"Two hours ago, an emergency call came from Team 11."

To the public, the Myeongdong Guild boasted ten teams.

Yet, this public face was a mere facade. The mysterious 'Team 11' Park Tae-Seop referenced was a covert squad, an assembly of Black Hunters.

"You said there was an emergency call?"

"If you have eyes, see for yourself."

Park Tae-Seop flung an object onto the table. It was an old-style mobile phone, so dated it was hard to guess when it had been made.

While the call history had been erased, a solitary text, received two hours prior, stood out.

[Intruder detected.]

A short sentence, but it carried grave implications.

Closing the phone, Park Ji-Hwang asked,

“Where was the location?”

“It's quite far away, near some no-name mountain in a rural area. It’s an unsafe zone and there are no Gates nearby, so no one visits.” [Note: From the brief description that introduced the village in chapter 276, it seems to be a typical, sparsely populated village on the outskirts. I'm not entirely sure why its being labeled as "unsafe".]

“Have there been any updates?”

“If there were, do you think I'd be discussing this?”

“So you’re saying all contact has been lost.”

“I’ve sent someone to check… but I have a bad feeling.”

Park Ji-Hwang agreed with him.

Seven years ago, right after he was dispatched to the Myeongdong Guild, his first task was related to Team 11.

The leader of the Myeongdong Guild, Park Tae-Seop, was strongly opposed to hiding and training criminals, but one couldn't defy 'his' orders.

This resulted in a collection of about thirty Black Hunters.

'Three A-class Hunters. And twenty-five B-class Hunters.'

A force rivaling, or perhaps surpassing, Myeongdong Guild’s illustrious Team 1.

But now, after that alarming message, all had gone quiet.

His brooding was interrupted by a muffled vibration.

Vvv vvv.

Anxiety gnawed at him as the phone in his coat continued its insistent ringing.

The signal on the other end inevitably ended in a missed call voice message.

***

This was already the tenth call. I had sent a text a while ago, but there was no reply.

'Time to take action.'

The entrance to the towering building in the middle of Seoul bustled with people.

While observing the comings and goings,

“Excuse me.”

The man addressing me was impeccably dressed.

His face was angular and his eyes sharp. His sturdy frame exuded an aura of authority. The man standing next to him was similarly imposing.

I pocketed my phone and replied,

“Yes, can I help you?”

The man paused for a fraction of a second.

A badge pinned to his suit revealed his name and association with the Myeongdong Guild.

“I’m from the security team. We received a report about you, sir.”

“I'm no 'sir', but what report?”

“Upon reviewing the CCTV, we noticed you’ve been loitering in front of our building for quite some time… Do you have any business here?”

Their eyes radiated mistrust.

Dressed in casual training pants, a hoodie, a cap slung low, and dark sunglasses, it made sense that my intense scrutiny of the building drew suspicion.

“Sir, shall we move to another location?”

“No, that's unnecessary. And I'm not 'sir', okay?”

“It will only take a moment.”

Though his voice dripped with courtesy, his intent was far from it.

Whoosh! Almost in unison, the two lunged forward.

Their confident faces were instantly replaced by confusion.

Tap, snap.

“Huh?”

“Hm?”

Holding their wrists with deceptive ease, I chided,

“You, ill-mannered brats. How dare you touch me?”

“Listen, we just—”

“Can you let go of my wrist?”

The two C-rank Hunters from the security team looked utterly baffled. Even with all their strength, they couldn't budge their wrists.

'Do I need to teach them a lesson?'

Briefly contemplating, I opted against escalation and let go.

“Keep your hands to yourself.”

Massaging their sore wrists, they ventured,

“Are you a… Hunter?”

“May I know your affiliation and name?”

“I am Jin Tae-Kyung from the Peace Guild.”

“What?”

“Wait, THE 'Oh, fuck' guy?” [Note: He is referring to the interview from manhwa chapter 139 where MC is granted an award for his reassignment to A-rank and then instead of giving a speech, he yells "Oh, fuck!!"]

“…So you’ve watched the online broadcast.”

I much preferred "Sleeping Dragon of Shanxi" to "'Oh, fuck' guy". Whose idea was that nickname?

With a sigh, I slid off my shades. Their eyes widened in recognition, instantly becoming respectful.

“It’s an honor to meet you in person.”

“You look even more handsome in real life.”

Their admiration was evident, akin to teenagers meeting their music icon. Clearly, they were oblivious to the underlying tensions.

Information on Black Hunters would be classified. If even a rank-and-file security member had that intel, it would've spilled out long ago.

"Why are you at our guild..."

"I came to see someone I know."

"Someone you know?"

I pulled out a thin card from my wallet and handed it over. It was Park Ji-Hwang's business card.

"Team 1's Hunter, Park Ji-Hwang?"

Upon seeing the business card, one security team Hunter asked his colleague,

"Sunbae, do you know this person?" [Note: Sunbae is the Korean term for "senior", analogous to "senpai" in Japanese.]

"Who?"

"The card says Hunter Park Ji-Hwang from Team 1. I know all Hunters from Team 1, but I can't quite recall this one..."

"Park Ji-Hwang, Park Ji-Hwang... Oh, right, him. Why? You know him, too."

With an elbow nudge to his side, the realization dawned on his colleague.

Both of them alternated their gazes between me and the business card with a sense of wonder.

'What's with this reaction?'

My eyes naturally narrowed, though hidden behind my sunglasses. The security team Hunter, unaware of my reaction, asked,

"Are you close with Hunter Park Ji-Hwang?"

"We were classmates in middle school."

"Ah, you were friends then."

I offered a light smile

"We might still be."

"Pardon?"

"Just a joke."

Or maybe not.

Clueless to my musings, the guards pressed on,

"So, you came to see Hunter Park Ji-Hwang?"

"Yes, he wasn't answering his phone, and he wasn't at home either. I thought I might find him at work."

"Our apologies for the oversight earlier."

"You were just doing your job; don't worry about it. Is Ji-Hwang inside?"

The senior security team Hunter replied,

"He probably won't be in today either."

"Today either?"

"Yes, he doesn’t come to work often. If we talk in terms of frequency, maybe once a month? I’ve been here for almost a year and have barely seen him a few times. This guy’s only been here a month..."

"It seems like the Hunters of the Myeongdong Guild don't come to work often."

"They have a peculiar way of doing things here."

Curious.

I've never heard of a guild-affiliated Hunter attending work so infrequently.

The question lurking in the back of my mind deepens.

I concealed my curiosity and spoke up,

"Can you perhaps contact Ji-Hwang for me? I believe the guild has dedicated lines of communication with its members."

"Uh, about that..."

They exchanged uncertain glances, prompting me to sweeten the deal.

"I came to discuss a cooperative raid. I might even be able to add one or two more members..."

"Really?"

"Are you serious?"

Of course not.

Everything from start to finish was a lie. But I played it cool and continued,

"Both of you are C-rank, right?"

"Yes, yes."

"How did you know?"

"You can just tell at a glance. But it seems a waste for you two to be stuck in the security team with your skills."

Realistically, the security team would be considered a subsidiary role within the guild.

Why sideline capable Hunters on security detail? Deploying them in raids would surely yield better gains.

This truth wasn't lost on them. Their eyes gleamed with newfound hope.

"We'll contact him right away!"

"Thank you."

"Is there anything else you need...?"

"Could I perhaps take a look around the guild? I can wait for Ji-Hwang inside."

"Yes. Yes. Of course."

While the senior was fawning over me, the junior Hunter's face was stern.

If he's only been here for a month, he is probably still full of passion and dedication.

"I don't think that is appropriate."

"What? This bastard..."

"I hold Hunter Jin Tae-Kyung in high regard, too. But we shouldn't breach guild protocols."

"Hey, man!"

The junior guard's sudden outburst was immediately followed by a hushed, apologetic murmur as his eyes darted towards me.

“Are you out of your mind? It's an A-rank gate. Even rotting away in the security team for three years doesn’t offer such an opportunity."

"Then, we should at least report to the team leader first..."

"You're so narrow-minded. Why do we need to report for just a quick tour? And it's Hunter Jin Tae-Kyung we're talking about."

"No matter how you see it, we should..."

"Can you be a bit more flexible? Hmm?"

"Flexible?"

The junior Hunter's face tightened, and he retorted,

"In these times, I'd appreciate if you refrain from using such careless words. It's uncomfortable."

"Hah...you must be insane. Do you want to make your life in the guild uncomfortable?"

What a mess.

Exhaling deeply, I intervened.

The junior took a hesitant step back before straightening himself defiantly.

"Do... Do you have something to say?"

"Not really, I'm just impressed."

"Excuse me?"

"You're so devoted to your post. Later when I meet the head of the Myeongdong guild, I'll be sure to mention that there's such a talented person here."

"The Guild Leader?"

"Yes. Ji-Hwang mentioned introducing me to the Guild Leader. I'll be sure to mention your name when the time comes."

My gaze settled on his name badge.

"Hunter Kim Cheol-Soo."

Brimming with newfound pride, Kim Cheol-Soo's eyes lit up.

Flashing an affable grin, I queried,

"Can I enter now?"

With fervor, Kim Cheol-Soo responded,

"Irrashaimase!" [Note: this is a polite way to say "Come in!" in Japanese. This is the direct translation of the writing in the novel.]

"…Ah, yes. Arigato." [Note: the MC is thanking him in Japanese now, too.]

The guild's impressive twenty-story edifice loomed before us.

Having deftly navigated around the junior's objections, the chatty senior Hunter began his informal tour.

"From the 1st to the 9th floor, there are civil departments such as tax, accounting, corporations, etc. From the 10th to the 19th floor, each floor has a raid team stationed."

"And the 20th floor?"

"Obviously, that's where the guild leader and the board members are."

"I see."

“The 1st team is the guild's elite, so they’re on the 19th floor.”

Ding.

As the words left his lips, the elevator doors opened. I selected the 19th floor and was prepared to ascend when a voice broke the silence.

"Hey, hey! Wait!”

Reacting swiftly, the senior Hunter jammed the door open button.

As the doors retracted, a middle-aged man with a thinning hairline entered, barely sparing us a glance.

He discreetly covered the receiver of his phone as he responded to the call,

“Yes, yes. No, it’s just the elevator. Yes.”

The intense aura surrounding him was palpable.

'An A-rank Hunter?'

Upon the middle-aged man's entrance, I subtly gestured towards the stiffened senior Hunter with a "who's this?" expression. The senior Hunter discreetly raised one finger and smirked.

'The 1st team leader.'

Now it made sense why he hadn't pressed a floor button.

Naturally, being the leader of the 1st team, he’d be headed to the 19th floor. I listened intently to his conversation.

And the next moment, a familiar voice echoed in my ears.

- Are you telling me that twenty-eight people were killed? Hurry up and...

"……"

A shiver ran down my spine. The familiar voice, coupled with the number twenty-eight.

'It's him.'

Almost involuntarily, my hand snapped into action.

Whack!

“Hey, who are you...!"

Seizing the team leader by the throat, my voice dripped venom into the phone,

“Park Ji-Hwang. You fucking bastard.”

---
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