Murim Login (Novel) Chapter 281


Chapter 281

The limousine sped smoothly down the road.

From the limo's built-in refrigerator, Park Ji-Hwang retrieved a bottle of water and offered it to the man opposite him.

"Would you like some?"

"In this situation? And where did you learn to offer other people's things as if they're yours?"

"Well, then it's alright to drink half. I do have that much stake in the current Myeongdong Guild."

"..."

The middle-aged man, Myeongdong Guild leader Park Tae-Seop, stared intently at Park Ji-Hwang as he sipped from the water bottle.

"You're calm."

After drinking precisely half, Park Ji-Hwang reclined into the sumptuous leather.

"Is there a reason I should be worried?"

"You're not worried about this?"

"It's just a minor hiccup."

"A sandcastle can crumble with just a drop of water."

"That's because it's a sandcastle."

"And Myeongdong Guild is different?"

"We have five hundred affiliated Hunters. Among them, there are twenty A-ranked Hunters. With this, it's more of an iron tower than a sandcastle. And..."

A playful smirk played at the corner of Ji-Hwang's lips.

"Never mind the Myeongdong Guild. We have 'that person' on our side, don't we?"

"...That's true."

Reluctantly nodding, Park Tae-Seop's expression was one of distaste. Seeing this, Park Ji-Hwang asked,

"What is it? What's making you so restless?"

After a brief silence, Park Tae-Seop spoke.

"A feeling."

"Pardon?"

"When you reach my age, you develop a certain intuition."

Ha.

Park Ji-Hwang could hardly contain his inner laughter. He wondered what Park Tae-Seop was getting at, concluding it was just a whim of an old man past his prime.

'Just a feeling? Is he serious?'

His skepticism was palpable. And Park Tae-Seop, seasoned by time, was certainly not oblivious to it.

"You might think it's nonsense. I understand. It's a realm that bright-eyed boys like you can't comprehend."

"Ah, I'm sorry if you feel that way."

"That insincere tone of yours is something only a young chick would use."

"From my perspective, I truly can't understand. What's weighing so heavily on your mind?"

After a weighted pause, a name whispered into the quiet.

"Jin Tae-Kyung."

Uttered like a heavy exhale, it was that very name that had haunted him since Team 11's line went dark.

Initially, he had brushed it off as mere unease over potential complications. But it was more profound.

His intuition, honed through the Great Cataclysm, knew the truth.

"That man is a siege weapon. He's capable of creating a fissure even in an iron tower, not to mention a sandcastle."

Without another word, Park Tae-Seop claimed the water bottle Park Ji-Hwang discarded and drank thirstily.

Speaking had ignited a fire in his throat.

Observing this, Park Ji-Hwang's expression grew skeptical.

'Has the old man lost his mind...?'

He was aware that managing the situation had its hitches. Particularly concerning the Black Hunters, Team 11, unforeseen issues had arisen.

Yet, even so, Park Tae-Seop's current agitation seemed exaggerated.

Even though Park Ji-Hwang deeply trusted 'that person', it was natural for him to feel uncomfortable now.

"I didn't expect you to rate Jin Tae-Kyung that highly."

"He's proven himself."

"Jin Tae-Kyung only recently came into prominence."

"In that short time, he's shown a lot."

"Shown?"

Park Ji-Hwang's words carried a hint of derision.

"Won Myung-Hoon was trash. Among the elites, he was the lowest of the low. His name only rose once during the Korean Wave. You know that too, Guild Master." [Note: the Korean Wave refers to the global spread of South Korean culture, including K-pop, K-dramas, films, and other things, which started in the 1990s.]

"I've heard he was not only foolish and greedy but also all bark and no bite."

"And the named monster? While it's called a named monster, that black wyvern was the weakest among the named monsters that appeared in the last 20 years. The magic stone from its corpse wasn't much different from an A-ranked monster's."

"So, could you have taken down that weak named monster by yourself?"

"I don't see why not."

Park Ji-Hwang's tone dripped with self-assurance.

He took great pride in his prowess.

Because of his innate talent, he enjoyed the honor of being 'that person's' choice. At such a young age, younger than most, he could sit across from the guild master of Myeongdong and meet his gaze as an equal.

However, the next question that followed made him hesitate.

"If you were to fight Jin Tae-Kyung, are you confident of victory against him?"

"...Of course."

His affirmation came with a fraction's hesitation. Park Tae-Seop, catching Park Ji-Hwang's subtle lip-twitch, remarked,

"That hesitation just now seems to speak volumes about what kind of person Jin Tae-Kyung is."

Park Ji-Hwang's response was icy.

"I was just reminiscing about the past."

"Ah, was he your friend?"

"I don't want to discuss that. What I want to tell you is, this situation isn't as serious as you might think."

"We can't even determine whether Team 11 is alive or dead, and a person currently at the height of national attention has invaded the Myeongdong Guild headquarters, and you say it's not serious?"

"He's a fool. That's probably why, unable to control his temper and without any fear, he dared to intrude into the Myeongdong Guild headquarters."

Merely a short while ago, Park Ji-Hwang, engaged in a call with the leader of Team One, was caught off guard by Jin Tae-Kyung's voice.

Concurrently, a surge of relief washed over him.

'This will be easier than expected.'

The Myeongdong Guild has over five hundred Hunters. Even if half of them were out on raids, an overwhelming number remained at the headquarters.

This included the guild's elite, Team One.

"Jin Tae-Kyung has entered the tiger's den. All we need to do is hold him down and clean things up."

He harbored no concerns regarding media prying either.

For someone like him or, more aptly, for 'that person', neutralizing journalists was child's play.

"We'll clean this up by today."

Park Tae-Seop murmured, his face showing his years,

"It doesn't look good. Maybe it's age, but I'm beginning to feel drained."

"It's just a passing breeze. Someone who withstood the typhoon of the Great Cataclysm should not be troubled by mere shaky legs."

Park Tae-Seop, recognizing the words filled more with criticism than encouragement, kept his mouth shut. Soon after, a bland cellphone chime echoed.

"It's not my phone."

"It's mine."

"Who is it?"

"It's Manager Kim, in charge of my security. I had asked him to check on the status of Team 11. It seems he just arrived."

"That's good. First, instruct him to erase all traces related to Team 11."

"Are you ordering me now?"

With a deep frown, Park Tae-Seop picked up the ringing phone.

"It's me. What happened? Huh? Ah, I see."

His facial muscles went through a tumult of tension and relaxation, eyes darting as if wrestling with a storm of thoughts.

With an odd mix of dread and disbelief, Park Tae-Seop handed the phone towards Park Ji-Hwang.

"What happened?"

"Take this."

Park Tae-Seop handed over his phone to him. Veins seemed to throb visibly on his forehead.

"What?"

"Hurry up!"

Confused, Park Ji-Hwang snatched the phone and pressed it against his ear.

A voice, velvety yet with an undercurrent of steel, resonated.

- Hunter Park Ji-Hwang of Myeongdong Guild's Team One?

Park Ji-Hwang realized the moment he heard it.

Recognition struck him instantly. This wasn’t Manager Kim, a familiar acquaintance.

The voice was young and sounded polite yet emanated an unapproachable aura.

"It's me. Who are you?"

He had a bad feeling about this.

To Park Ji-Hwang's question, laden with unease, the velvet voice replied,

- My name is Choi Min-Woo.

"Who?"

- Ah, I'm with the Peace Guild. I hold the position of team leader.

"...Peace Guild?"

- Yes.

Damn it. A chill ran down Park Ji-Hwang's spine.

With just those few exchanges, he pieced it together. He'd been ensnared by the Peace Guild.

It was evident what had become of the phone's original holder, Manager Kim – captured or forced to watch his own device being commandeered.

'These damn fools of the Myeongdong Guild.'

Mr. Choi's tone, coming from the other end, dripped with the confidence of someone holding all the cards.

- I called because I wanted to have a conversation with you.

"That is, I mean..."

Interrupting Park Ji-Hwang's frantic thoughts, a vibration pulsed against his chest.

It wasn't from Park Tae-Seop's phone, which he was currently holding, but from his own.

- Hunter Park Ji-Hwang?

"Just a moment. Just one moment.”

Swiftly, with his unoccupied hand, Park Ji-Hwang retrieved his own phone from his suit's inner pocket.

A notification lit up the screen:

[Team One Leader]

So it's done.

A wave of relief washed over Park Ji-Hwang's features. Surely this meant that Jin Tae-Kyung, who dared to infiltrate the heart of the Myeongdong Guild, had been captured.

The tilted scales seemed to find equilibrium.

But then...

"...Huh?"

Park Ji-Hwang's momentary solace evaporated.

Instead of an update from Team One Leader, he was met with an image.

'What is this?'

Familiar faces.

A young man in the photo, smiling with a face splattered with blood droplets. And a middle-aged man, clinging to him with glazed, blue-ish eyes.

'Is that... Jin Tae-Kyung and Team Leader One?'

Behind them, an unmistakable background presented itself.

The plaque declaring 'Hunter Park Ji-Hwang of Myeongdong Guild Team One' made it evident where they stood.

Another revelation hit.

'Don't tell me... no one could stop him? Just Jin Tae-Kyung alone?'

A truth too daunting to accept.

Doubt clouded Park Ji-Hwang's eyes, and in that moment of vulnerability...

Vvv vvv.

With the vibration, a new message arrived. It was short, but powerful.

In just five words, it shattered Park Ji-Hwang's mental state.

[Sender: Team One Leader]

Bring Melona when you come. [Note: Melona is a name brand of fruit-flavored ice cream in South Korea. It seems like MC is inferring that he has worked up an appetite by defeating Park Ji-Hwang's fellow guild members.]

“Damn it!"

With a visceral squeeze, the phone in Park Ji-Hwang's grasp crumbled like a discarded soda can.

Observing this, Myeongdong Guild Master, Park Tae-Seop, murmured,

“You're screwed.”

* * *

[We have captured the personnel dispatched from Myeongdong Guild.]

That was the notification from Team Leader Choi.

Earlier, following our raid on the Black Hunters' concealed base, we had divided into two teams.

One group remained behind, focused on collecting irrefutable proof. The other consisted solely of me, executing independent maneuvers.

Team Leader Choi's logic was clear: we needed tangible evidence or a witness to pin them down.

'He's right.'

Given their meticulous operation, the Black Hunters, Im Young-Jun included, had adeptly concealed their identities. Any ties to the Myeongdong Guild had been expertly severed.

Team Leader Choi had zeroed in on this precise detail.

'Always methodical.'

Reflecting upon it, his strategy was consistently sound.

While he did have the guidance of Butler Kim, an adept mage and sagacious advisor, it was undeniable that such traits were innately his.

'With this, we have substantial leverage.'

Beyond the captured Black Hunters, we had a regular staff from the Myeongdong Guild in our grasp.

This would certainly make for a formidable shield.

'And a weapon, if needed.’

He dispatched the earlier snapped photograph with a note of gratitude.

The device's premium quality ensured even spontaneous shots were pristine.

"Maybe I should upgrade my phone.”

As he mumbled to himself, someone flinched. It was the security team Hunter hired as a dedicated cameraman for the day.

Of course, there would be no compensation for him.

"Is there a problem?"

"No, it's nothing!"

"Make yourself comfortable. Don’t stand. Take a seat on the sofa."

"I’m comfortable as is!"

"You look uncomfortable though."

"Everything's fine — argh!"

Is it just his heightened emotions? His exclamation sounds like a blend of frustration and pain.

Considering he's just a guard from the security team, it's not surprising. After all, he barely had the nerve to even glance at the fallen elite members of Team One.

'The ones who came later were the same.'

The Myeongdong Guild Hunters who arrived post-carnage couldn't muster the courage to come near, their faces etched with shock at the devastation.

While many were undoubtedly loyal and committed, they simply lacked the prowess.

Those brave enough to confront me were swiftly neutralized.

Once about fifty met that fate, none dared to venture closer, turning Park Ji-Hwang's office into a no-go zone.

I settled into his chair, deep in thought.

'He must be rushing here like a madman by now.'

Just thinking about him made my heart go cold.

An old middle school friend I had bumped into on the streets after a decade.

Where did the façade end and the real Park Ji-Hwang begin?

'Come quickly, before I get angrier.'

Crack.

The chair's armrest succumbed to my tightening grip.

"He's arrived!"

"The Guild Master!"

Whispers erupted outside the office.

Simultaneously, I sensed the commanding aura of two potent forces making their way without any second thoughts.

'Finally.'

And then, with a thunderous noise, the doors were blown apart.

Boom!

---
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