Murim Login (Novel) Chapter 303

                     


Chapter 303

A week prior, the four individuals who heard my tale reacted in ways that were paradoxically alike and distinct.

'Controlling a captured Named Monster for raids? Hahaha! What a madman!'

'...Are you really crazy?'

'I'm sorry to say this... but are you truly insane, Hunter Jin Tae-Kyung?'

'You've gone mad. I'll pretend I didn't hear this.'

Mr. Rough Guy alone found humor in the situation, his laughter a solitary echo. In contrast, Song Song, Butler Kim, and Mr. Choi regarded me with a mix of concern and disbelief, their expressions akin to those of doctors observing a mental patient.

The media frenzy after the interview was volcanic, catapulting me into an unwelcome celebrity status across South Korea in mere hours.

"I should have stopped all of this trouble then."

Pop! Pop! Pop!

As Warlordmon executed his lightning-quick maneuvers, Mr. Choi sighed, observing the chaos.

The proverbial milk was spilled, but fortunately, the cleanup was seamless and problem-free.

"Still, it turned out okay."

Even the notoriously meticulous government audit team failed to unearth the incident's truth.

It was a scenario beyond anyone's wildest imaginings, and there were tangible proofs of the alibi.

"The magical power distribution survey conducted with the magic detector passed. Bone fragments were found in the armor shards worn by Skeleton Warlord, so no one suspects anything."

Everything leaves a trace.

Unlike other skeletons that melted or shattered on impact, the robust bones of the Warlord maintained their shape perfectly.

And the bones, brimming with immense magical power, became crucial evidence of the existence and defeat of a Named Monster.

"By the way, did we put those bones up for auction? I wonder how much the winning bid will be?"

- Bones! Don't call my noble body that!

"You still don’t understand your situation. Warlordmon, use Body Slam." [Note: Body Slam is an actual Digimon move, and should not be confused with the Pokemon "Body Slam".]

Thud! Thud! Thud!

As Warlordmon, begrudgingly compliant, executed a Body Slam, the office reverberated with each thud. His jawbone clicked in a somber rhythm, a ghost of sorrow for his lost soldiers.

- Ah, my loyal soldiers. I miss you.

"So, what about this month's troop quota?"

- ...I will gather them promptly.

Just then, with a click, the office door opened.

Just as the conversation changed, the office door clicked open. A pair of elegantly poised legs hesitated in the doorway. I glanced up at the light brown eyes and asked,

"What are you doing? Come in."

"…Jin Tae-Kyung, you crazy bastard. Would you like to enter a room where a talking skeleton is playing ball?"

"Yeah."

I showed the Skeleton Warlord to Song Song, who was visibly unsettled.

"Warlordmon, scare her."

"Kyaaa! Stop it! Don't do it!"

"Warlordmon, wag your tail."

- I don’t have a tail.

"Then, lightning speed."

Pop! Pop! Pop!

- Eooo, eoo!

"Kyaaa!"

Thankfully, the room's soundproof magic kept their chaotic duet of screams and cries contained within its walls.

Amidst the cacophony, the abrupt ring of Mr. Choi's cellphone sliced through the noise. He held up a hand for silence, his eyes narrowing as he focused on the screen.

"Everyone, quiet for a moment."

After a few moments of Mr. Choi staring intently at the screen, he spoke with an urgent tone.

"I think I'll need to step out."

"What's going on?"

Mr. Choi shook his head.

"I'll inform you once things are certain. And, Song Song."

"Yes?"

"For now, cancel the additional raid scheduled for next week. I might be a bit neglectful of my duties for a few days, so please help out Butler Kim."

Butler Kim, already stretched thin with guild leadership duties, training in the Jin Family's Cultivation Method, and managing this incident's aftermath, would find an extra pair of hands invaluable.

Of course, the rest of us were helping out, but as the Guild Master, he was understandably busier.

"Alright, that's fine. And it's not like I can ask Mr. Rough Guy to do it."

Song Song nodded readily, then paused and turned to me.

"But what are you going to do?"

"Me?"

"Who else is here?"

"Warlordmon, lightning."

"If you do that thing again, I will seriously kill you."

"...Lightning."

I guess it's time to stop.

Warlordmon, like one of Pavlov's dogs, responded instantly. Seizing the moment, I discreetly stowed him away in my inventory.

"I'm getting ready to leave now."

"Leaving? But I have to work overtime today."

"I have some business to attend to."

"Oh really? Must be very important business for you to leave early while everyone else is working."

Suppressing a yawn, I answered nonchalantly.

"Because of an exam."

"Exam? What exam?"

"What else? Don't you even know what day it is today?"

Song Song's eyes flickered with realization after a brief moment of confusion.

Mid-November - a date etched in the minds of even the busiest souls. The day of a pivotal exam, so momentous that even the news channels counted down to it.

"Are you taking the college entrance exam?"

"Are you crazy? It's my sister."

I checked the clock hanging on the office wall.

5 PM. The perfect time to leave to make it there by the end of the exam.

"I'm off then. Take care, everyone. You too, Song Song."

I got up from the comfortable sofa and left the office.

As I walked, images of my mother, likely praying fervently near the exam site, and Ha-Yeon, diligently solving each question, filled my mind.

'I'm worried. She must not have been able to study well because of me lately.'

Ha-Yeon had endured unwanted media attention these last few weeks because of her proximity to me.

It was the last thing she needed just before such a crucial exam.

'I feel sorry about it.'

I hoped her efforts would pay off.

With these thoughts weighing heavily on me, I made my way to the exam site. An hour later, Ha-Yeon's downcast expression confirmed my worst fears.

"You... never mind, you worked hard."

"That's right, my daughter. You've been through a lot."

Ha-Yeon offered us a weak smile in response.

"What a surprise. It's a rare sight to see you here."

"Of course, I had to come when my sister is taking the college entrance exam."

"All this disguise for that?"

"Do I stand out too much?"

"Yeah. Sunglasses and a mask at night are really not a good look. It draws more attention."

"Damn, I was wondering why people were staring at me."

"Are you an idiot? Obviously, people will stare at such an obvious disguise."

Her laughter was faint and weary, sapped of its usual energy. Seeing Ha-Yeon so exhausted, my sense of guilt deepened.

"Are you okay?"

Her response was tinged with despondency.

"No."

"I'm sorry, it’s because of me."

"I thought I'd score perfect, but I got one wrong in English."

"Here I am, causing you distress because I'm your brother. I'm too ashamed to face you... What did you say?"

"I got one wrong. I missed a perfect score in the college entrance exam by one point!"

Thump! Thump!

Observing Ha-Yeon furiously stamping her feet in frustration, a thought struck me.

'She's unbelievable.'

To miss only one question across all subjects in the college entrance exam was nothing short of remarkable.

I knew she was smart, but this was beyond my expectations.

'But, how does she know she got one wrong?'

Could that be the reason she emerged 30 minutes later than expected?

One thing was certain: this winter would be a season of warmth and pride for our family.

And yet...

"Missing just one! If I had gotten that right, I would have had a perfect score!"

Leaving her to vent might risk inciting the wrath of the other exam-takers and their parents.

"Stop talking nonsense and let's go eat."

"Let me go! How can you understand my feelings with your 7th-grade scores!" [Note: In the South Korean education system, the grading scale for internal school marks typically goes from 1st grade (highest) to 9th grade (lowest). A 7th grade score would mean that the MC did very poorly on this test.]

"Lower your voice, please."

I gently grasped the nape of my fuming sister's neck, guiding her away. Hidden within my inventory, the Skeleton Warlord mused quietly.

- Blood doesn’t lie, after all.

"You're definitely in for a hundred rounds of lightning speed."

* * *

Time passed rapidly.

With Ha-Yeon’s college entrance exam behind us, we returned to our newly renovated old home, a change that moved my mother to tears.

"Son... I'm so grateful. I don't even know what to say."

"Don’t mention it. It's nothing."

"I'm grateful too, son."

"Ha-Yeon, do you want to end your life now that the college entrance exam is over?"

Relief washed over me, resolving a concern that had lingered in my mind.

Yet, a small unease persisted.

'They might target my family.'

Using family as leverage is an age-old, effective tactic.

I hadn't expected Lee Jeong-Ryong, who had his own vulnerabilities, to stoop to such lows, but I had to be ready for anything.

'Anyway, I’ll keep earning money, so no need to be frugal.'

Top hunters are akin to walking small-to-medium businesses in terms of earnings.

But even they couldn't match my income levels.

My efficiency in solo raids was a game-changer.

A hunter's prowess is directly proportional to their wealth.

And fame is an added bonus.

"Butler Kim, can you manage the interview and advertisement requests I’ve been receiving?"

"All of them?"

"No, just the high-profile ones with high pay."

Even a fraction of the numerous offers brought a significant sum to my account.

The interest in me was overwhelming, both in South Korea and abroad.

A few advertisements, select interviews, and TV appearances were all it took.

My bank balance skyrocketed, as did the Peace Guild's stock value.

It was a win-win; lucrative and beneficial for both parties.

"May I make one important request?"

"Please, go ahead."

"Could you look into a security company? One that's reliable."

"Hehe, leave it to me."

Mom and Ha-Yeon remained blissfully oblivious.

They had no clue that the houses adjacent and across the street had been discreetly sold. Nor were they aware that the new neighbors, appearing as cheerful couples, were in fact undercover security personnel.

Their amazement was evident.

"Son, did you know a lot of couples live here?"

"Is that so?"

"Yes. Every time I go to the local mart, I run into them. There are young couples and older ones, but all of them seem to have no children."

"Well, it's the era of low birth rates."

"Brother, there are two men living next door. They always walk arm in arm."

"...It's the era embracing all forms of love."

That's a bit too obvious, isn't it?

After I had asked for some changes from the security company, Ha-Yeon sent me a KakaoTalk message a few days later.

〈 Jin Ha-Yeon

Jin Ha-Yeon:

Wow

This time two women moved in

They're always holding hands;

"..."

Is this security company really reliable?

Despite my reservations, the security agents were performing admirably.

I received updates every 30 minutes. They were vigilant in their watch over my family.

Amidst a hectic schedule, everything seemed to be under control. Yet, one aspect was frustrating: leveling up.

Ding.

- You have defeated a [Lv.70 Skeleton Archer]!

- You have gained a very small amount of experience!

- The difference in strength is too great. The amount of experience gained is drastically reduced.

"Damn it! Come on!"

Despite my hopes, the experience factory was no longer as effective.

Just three or four levels gained. That's all.

- Hehe, experience points, level-ups, I don't know what you're talking about, but this is good. Human, this is the end of greed!

"But if I extinguish you, I could level up one more time, right?"

- ...I will try harder. Please, anything but that!

"Phew. I'll put that off for now. Instead, keep offering your troops as tribute."

- Why! You said there's nothing to gain from capturing my soldiers now!

"That's for me. Our guild members need to gain their own experience."

- Experience?

"I'll have them practice combat against your guys. Have your subordinates practice acting. Make sure it doesn’t look too obvious they are going easy. And you know what happens if there are any fatalities on our side, right?"

- ...You'll suck the marrow out of me. How cruel can humans be?

The Skeleton Warlord's complaint echoed in my ears, but his fate was firmly in my hands.

Our new guild members were gaining practical combat skills against the Skeletons, who excelled in their auxiliary roles.

'Good. Grow strong and prosper.'

A week had passed since Ha-Yeon's college entrance exam when Mr. Choi made his appearance.

"It's been a while, everyone. But before we catch up, I need to show you this."

His voice was weary, his smile strained. He produced a USB drive and plugged it into the holographic TV.

"This is a video from China."

Beep.

With a chilly mechanical sound, the video began to play.

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