Murim Login (Novel) Chapter 282


Chapter 282

Boom!

The door slammed open, making a sound like thunder as it ricocheted off the wall behind it. Two figures entered the room.

I waved at the familiar person glaring at me.

"Hey look, the fucking bastard is here."

"…You."

The urge to punch him was overwhelming, but his contorted face only made me chuckle.

Noticing the empty, clenched fist of Park Ji-Hwang, I asked disappointedly:

"Didn't you buy it?"

"What?"

"The Melona."

"You asshole..."

As Park Ji-Hwang began to flush red with anger, a large, powerful hand descended onto his shoulder.

"We're being watched."

Park Ji-Hwang, biting his lip, took a step back.

With a look of amusement, the middle-aged man, who was revered by everyone else in the room, turned to face me.

"Do you recognize me?"

I nodded.

Given the weight his name carried, and frequent appearances in newspapers and magazines, it was a face one couldn't forget.

'Park Tae-Seop, the Guild Leader of Myeongdong.'

He was a war hero who made his mark during the Great Cataclysm and was now one of the top-ranked Hunters in the country.

His journey from the frontlines to the head of a premier guild made him an aspirational figure for all Hunters.

'I used to admire him too.'

But not anymore.

My fond memories of dreaming to become like Park Tae-Seop expired two days ago.

The underlying tension between us was palpable. Sensing the venom in my stare, Park Tae-Seop took the initiative.

"You see me as an enemy, don’t you?"

"After all that I've learned, I can't think otherwise."

"Don’t jump to conclusions. In life, you'll realize there's no such thing as an eternal friend, or foe."

"Well, I’m not so sure about the 'no eternal foes' part."

Looking at Park Ji-Hwang standing beside him, he continued.

"Indeed, the saying that 'there's no such thing as an eternal friend' might have a point."

Park Ji-Hwang shot back.

"The premise itself is wrong. We were never friends."

"We were never friends."

Sinking deeply into the chair, I pondered over his words.

One of the things I couldn't understand even now was the sudden change in Park Ji-Hwang's attitude from the night that we drank together.

But then again...

"Anyway, why should I care if we were friends now? It all ended when you sent the Black Hunters."

At the words "Black Hunters," Park Tae-Seop waved his hand, like he was shooing away a fly.

All the Hunters in the corridor started to back off.

I smirked as their footsteps faded.

"You don't seem very confident."

"Because it's shameful."

"You're surprisingly honest. It makes me uncomfortable."

"Personally, I feel ashamed."

"Considering you find it shameful, you gave quite a shitty order."

"..."

"So why did you do it?"

A hint of discomfort crossed Park Tae-Seop's face. But it wasn’t directed at me.

For a split second, his eyes darted to Park Ji-Hwang, then back.

Look at that...

The action Park Tae-Seop just displayed wasn't deliberate.

He was hiding something, no doubt.

Connecting the dots, I thought,

'Something's up. Something big.'

Hearing me mutter under my breath, Park Ji-Hwang suddenly spoke.

"To keep you and the Peace Guild in check."

"In check?"

"Look, when someone new steps up, someone else loses out. The other guilds probably think the same, right?"

At first glance, that seems to be right.

The domestic guild market is already saturated. There are established classes and hierarchies. The old guilds wouldn't want new competitors to emerge.

"The Peace Guild is a threat. They're limited to Bucheon for now, but they'll grow at an alarming rate, increasing their influence."

"So, you sent the Black Hunters?"

"I did send them. But didn't I already say it was just a warning?"

"Didn't I already mention too? Because of that petty warning, someone got crippled."

"Crippled? The two severed arms would've been perfectly reattached, and it wouldn’t interfere with his daily life. Do they call that being crippled these days?"

"It's no different from being crippled. A Hunter's career was ended."

"Better him than your entire guild."

"What?"

Park Ji-Hwang chuckled.

"We're just getting started. All the higher-ranked gates suitable for your guild have been reserved, and the neighboring guilds are giving you the cold shoulder. You'll slowly wither away."

Suddenly, I remembered something from a few days ago. Team Leader Choi had mentioned that other guilds had monopolized the A-rank gates.

Because of that, I had no choice but to lead the rookies and hop from C-rank, or occasionally B-rank gates, gaining little to no experience.

"You set that up?"

"You're slow. You thought it was a coincidence?"

Park Ji-Hwang's lips curled upward. Not only did he regain his composure, but he also leaned against the sofa, showing complete relaxation.

"You've recruited a lot of new guild members recently. What are you going to do? At this rate, you'll have to let them all go within a year. It'd be fortunate if they don't sue for not paying them."

"..."

I relaxed my arms from the folded position.

"You're good at this. No wonder you're a large-scale guild."

"Well, something like that."

"But... we have a good hand, too. I think it would be interesting if it were revealed that the Myeongdong guild has been training criminals and hiding behind their backs. What do you think?"

Without waiting for Park Ji-Hwang's reaction, I continued.

"From the looks of things, if we hand you over to the police, you guys would swiftly take control. So, I thought a live-streamed expose on YouTube might be better."

"…YouTube? Live stream?"

"Yep. Didn't you know our guild created a channel? Subscribe and hit the like button. And don't forget to turn on notifications."

"..."

"Wow, we have 300,000 subscribers now. If this blows up, we'll easily reach 10 million. In the end, half of Korea will probably watch."

The smile on Park Ji-Hwang's lips vanished as if washed away.

"It's best not to start something you can't handle."

"What's there to handle?"

"Do you want to make enemies of all the major guilds?"

"If I make a mess here, would you be able to clean it up?" [Note: Another way to interpret this sentence would be something like, "If I tell the world about what you've done, would your guild be able to recover?"]

"………"

Park Ji-Hwang’s lips pressed intto a thin line, as if trying to suppress annoyance.

After glaring at me with smoldering eyes for a while, he finally spoke.

"Tell me what you want."

"What I want?"

"Name your price, I'll do my best to accommodate. Let's not escalate things further and negotiate now."

"You want to negotiate?"

"If we go all the way, it's a lose-lose situation. You know that, too."

He's right. If it was something I could handle alone, I would've gone all the way. But the Peace Guild's lives were at stake here.

Someone's friend, lover, family... and the Hunters themselves.

I took a deep breath, feeling the dryness of my throat.

"What can you offer?"

"Money and power. And various privileges for the growth of the Peace Guild."

"Didn't you say you sent the Black Hunters because the growth of the Peace Guild bothered you?"

"That's why there must be a limit."

"So, stay within the boundaries you set?"

"Yes."

The more I listened to Park Ji-Hwang's words, the clearer the picture became in my mind.

Surrender the detainees the Peace Guild holds and, in return, reap considerable rewards.

Possibly monumental rewards.

Buildings, land, and even the higher-ranked gates monopolized by the Myeongdong Guild, plus a huge sum of cash.

The proposal was enticing. However…

"You're missing the most important part."

"With all this, the conditions are more than generous... What?"

Park Ji-Hwang frowned.

"What did you just say?"

"I said the most important thing is missing."

"Are you crazy? You want more than this?"

"To be honest, I don't understand this negotiation well. I only know that you're offering something significant. Our guild leader or Mr. Choi would know better whether this is enough or not."

"Then what the hell are you saying is missing?"

I met Park Ji-Hwang's gaze without flinching.

"An apology."

"…What?"

"When you make a mistake, you should apologize. But the apology is missing."

In his proposal, he offered ample tangible compensations, but no apologies.

The thing that should be prioritized above all else was missing.

"Ha."

Park Ji-Hwang let out a sarcastic laugh. His eyes, flickering between scorn and fury, scrutinized me.

"Alright. I'm sorry. Is that good?"

"That's not how you apologize."

Crack.

From Park Ji-Hwang's clenched fist, a sound of bones cracking could be heard.

Ji-Hwang collected himself. Drawing a steadying breath, he met my gaze head-on, and said in a grave tone:

"I'm sorry."

"That's somewhat better."

"Is it settled now?"

I gave a slight nod.

"But next time, when you do it directly, make sure it's more heartfelt. Bow your head politely."

"…What kind of bullshit is this?"

"Why would I want an apology from you? You should apologize to the victim and his family."

Park Ji-Hwang's eyelids twitched.

"You want me to apologize to that D-rank Hunter?"

"Why, can't you do it?"

"I've already offered them compensation. It's an amount most Hunters can't even dream of touching in their lifetimes."

"That's great. Delivering a sincere apology along with a substantial compensation as a sign of remorse will be even more effective."

"You…"

I spoke my next words in a gentle voice.

"If your pride is hurt, you could bring one more person and apologize together."

Park Tae-Seop, the Myeongdong guild leader who had been silently listening to our conversation, licked his lips.

"I will personally go and apologize, with all my sincerity."

"At least, Guild Leader, you have the basic decency. Should we call you the cleanest piece of shit?"

Clean shit. At this moment, I can't think of a more fitting and paradoxical phrase.

However, the other person I had in mind wasn't Park Tae-Seop.

Pushing back from the table, I fixed my gaze on Park Ji-Hwang, probing deeper.

"The one who gave you the order. Bring that person and have them apologize as well."

"...!"

A tumultuous storm flickered in Park Ji-Hwang's eyes.

It was a storm that, in its brief intensity, turned my suspicions into certainties.

"Fine. Since Guild Leader Park Tae-Seop agreed just now."

Park Ji-Hwang tried to sound as calm as possible.

"We'll go together to apologize."

"Cut the bullshit. Bring the person who actually gave the order."

"I don't understand what you're saying."

With a silent laugh, I got up and moved towards the couch where Park Ji-Hwang was sitting.

"No matter how much I think about it, it just doesn't make sense."

I slouched down opposite him.

Across the large wooden table, I slowly scrutinized the imposing figure before me.

His sturdy build, muscles visible through his shirt, and the energy contained within.

He radiated strength.

Even without checking his level, I could tell that the gap between him and the Team One Leader was massive.

"What doesn't make sense?"

"The fact that someone as strong as you, who could easily overpower the team leader with one hand, is just lingering as a regular Hunter and not even a vice-team leader."

"…!"

"Moreover, you show up to work maybe once a month, and from what I heard from your conversation with the Team One Leader, you seemed to be the one ordering him around."

There weren’t just one or two suspicious points.

And my suspicions turned into convictions as we continued our conversation.

"Such huge promises are being made to me, yet the actual top decision-maker remains silent, and the one promising things doesn't hold any position. He's just a regular team member... How should I interpret this, Guild Leader Park Tae-Seop?"

Meeting my gaze, Myeongdong Guild Leader Park Tae-Seop slowly closed his eyes. That in itself was a perfect answer.

I chuckled and looked at Park Ji-Hwang.

"So, bring 'them'. I don't know who it is, but bring them and start with an apology."

Park Ji-Hwang, whose lips had been tightly closed, finally spoke.

"And if I refuse?"

"Then we'll see this through to the end."

"Crazy bastard. Do you even know who you're talking about?”

"I don't. And I frankly don't care to know. But I need to see that person come and hang their head in apology to be satisfied."

Shush!

Simultaneously, we both lunged for each other at a blinding speed.

Park Ji-Hwang shouted a warning.

"You bastard!"

Papad!

In an instant, our hands clashed and tangled. In the blink of an eye, five moves were exchanged.

With a snap, I broke his wrist.

Then I grabbed his waxy, well-coifed hair and slammed it towards the table.

Bang!

"Like that."

---
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