Level Up - Chapter 11: Guild - 1
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Choo Kyung Hoon hung up the phone with a stern face. Although he calmly received it, he could not accept the content of the call easily at all.
“Park Geun Han… failed? ..and he died?”
Park Geun Han was level 43, and the target was merely level 27. Ten level 27’s were no match against a level 43 player. Just how did he die in that dungeon?
Furthermore, Park Geun Han’s equipment was excellent and relatively strong among the level 43 players.
Through the camera footage, Park Geun Han was seen entering the dungeon but there’s no record of him coming out of it, so he probably died inside.
“What the hell… What happened?”
There was only one plausible answer. The boss in the dungeon was incredibly strong, and unfortunately, Park Geun Han had faced the boss.
“Yes, that’s possible… Even so, the probability for such an incident was incredibly low.”
The dungeon was only a level Bronze 1. Obviously, for it to be able to kill Park Geun Han, it should be as strong as him. That said, it must be a mutated boss. However, although ordinary magical monsters mutate from time to time, it was extremely rare for a boss to mutate.
In any case, Park Geun Han’s failure made things worse.
The call that Choo Kyung Hoon had just received was from Ryu Ji Hye. And when her strong protest came to mind, he got annoyed.
She had strongly protested, saying that Park Geun Han’s actions had wasted all of her efforts.
“You should have just waited for my results.” She said while clicking her tongue.
Choo Kyung Hoon hurried because other guilds seemed to have started moving. He didn’t expect things to turn out this way.
She had decided to give up this mission. If Park Geun Han didn’t die, Choo Kyung Hoon wouldn’t have let her give up that easily, but now, her actions were justified.
“It’s a shame… He looked like he was going to make a lot of money.”
The Dungeon Headquarters was a country organization, but all they were doing was literally managing the dungeons. All they did for the players was to register them as one but being a registered player did not necessarily provide support or benefits.
However, unregistered players were not allowed to use the dungeons, so they were forced to register.
But as they level up, they could receive special treatment, so registered players usually take a level measurement test every week.
Anyway, it was the Dungeon Headquarters that had the greatest power and influence.
It was because they were dominating the market for buying and selling dungeon-related goods.
It was the only place where people could legally buy and sell items containing mana.
That was why the nations did not lose its power and influence even after the appearance of dungeons.
But that’s not how the world always operates.
In fact, there have been reports that illegal black markets, formed by avoiding the eyes of the headquarters, were four times larger than the legal market.
Of course, taking advantage of the illegal market was risky. There were many frauds, and there could be extortion by violence or murder.
Nevertheless, it was growing steadily because of its more significant financial gains than using the country-run Dungeon Headquarters.
And the player guilds came along with this change.
The Dungeon Headquarters spared no effort to keep the status quo. And some of the leaders believed that if they worked hard and fortified their strength, they could maintain the situation until the end.
However, Choo Kyung Hoon’s view was different. He thinks that the guilds would become the new status quo and that the national organizations would be forced to fall behind the guilds.
So he had been preparing for it steadily. Recruiting new talents was a part of his plan. The people he hired became members of the Dungeon Headquarters, but they were his own nonetheless. The structure of the branch itself was built that way.
Hyun Seok was a talent that Choo Kyung Hoon had instinctively picked out. But such a great talent was about to leave his grasps. This was all because of Park Geun Han.
“And I’ve invested so much on him!”
Where else could Park Geun Han get his equipment? All of them were prepared using Choo Kyung Hoon’s money.
Sometimes, he even supported Park Geun Han with artifacts and materials containing mana.
Without such support, Park Geun Han would not have been able to raise his level that quickly.
And the same was with Ryu Ji Hye. Besides, she had one more fundamental reason why she couldn’t leave him.
If he uses it, he can handle her more forcefully, but Choo Kyung Hoon didn’t bother to do so. He didn’t want to do that unless he was cornered.
It was because he believed that there would be a much better place to use that card in the future.
Anyway, Choo Kyung Hoon believed that Ryu Ji Hye would never leave his grasp. There’s no reason for that to happen.
There was only one drawback for the players who joined the headquarters.
When there was a special mission, they had to accept it unconditionally. Of course, the special mission was to serve the interests of the nation.
And that’s why the headquarters players had some benefits.
For example, when they buy and sell dungeon-related items, they are exempted from taxes.
Although not many people can receive the same benefits, working at the headquarters had more restraints than elsewhere. So more players tend to join guilds instead of the Dungeon Headquarters. And player guilds were now slowly becoming a global trend.
Guilds would receive monetary support from companies and move under those companies’ interests.
In Korea, countless companies were eager to recruit players, and several famous guilds had already appeared.
Choo Kyung Hoon thought of the guilds that were associated with him. He then picked a guild that would benefit him the most.
It was important to maintain a good relationship with the famous guilds. And for that, he needs useful intel. After organizing his thoughts, Choo Kyung Hoon picked up the phone.
* * *
Ryu Ji Hye looked at Hyun Seok nervously. His face was expressionless, so it looked much colder. To be honest, she was innocent. Park Geun Han appeared after Hyun Seok’s party had entered the dungeon, and she didn’t have the strength to stop him.
Nevertheless, she felt uncomfortable as if she was somehow guilty of what had happened.
“If you have something to say, just say it.” She said.
Hyun Seok just walked past her and headed for the next dungeon.
Chang Soo and his group followed Hyun Seok and didn’t forget to make faces at Ryu Ji Hye as they passed by.
It wasn’t an easy feat to enter a dungeon again after experiencing something like that. Still, Hyun Seok thought that they should enter dungeons at times like this.
He didn’t know how many more high leveled players would be dispatched to surveil him.
Watching Hyun Seok’s back going further away, Ryu Ji Hye bit her lips and rushed towards Hyun Seok.
She quickly caught up with him and said, almost as if she was screaming, “I… I’ve quit!”
Hyun Seok stopped and turned around.
Ryu Ji Hye ran even faster and finally reached Hyun Seok.
“You knew from the start, didn’t you? Where I came from and what I came for. But I’ve quit.”
Hyun Seok gave her an odd eye and asked, “Is it ok for you to just blow that away?”
Ryu Ji Hye put both hands on her waist and said pridefully, “What could they do to me anyway? Screw them! Umm…” at that, she suddenly lost her confidence. “Well, there is something, but…”
However, she started smiling brightly at Hyun Seok. It was as if she had just ridden an emotional roller coaster.
“So come on, don’t be mad anymore. I honestly didn’t know this was going to happen.”
Hyun Seok rubbed his chin and thought.
Ji Hye continued, “I’m just stuck there because I have something I need. Honestly, though, if that wasn’t the case, I’d left that place already.”
Hyun Seok shifted his gaze at her. He knew her identity before they met. She was rather famous because she became the Korean branch manager of the Dungeon Headquarters 15 years later.
“Well, the dungeon headquarters at that time was a nominal organization.”
But still, the Korean branch manager wasn’t a position just anyone could get.
She was an outstanding beauty, so the rumors were rampant that she might have used something other than skills to get to that position.
Anyway, thanks to the title, “Beautiful Branch Manager”, she had received a lot of attention.
It was natural for Hyun Seok to recognize her no matter how much younger she was. For him, her appearance didn’t matter because he was blind. Instead, it was because of Ryu Ji Hye’s very unusual mana pattern that he recognized it at once.
Hyun Seok tried to recall the information about her. She was famous, so most of her information was easy to obtain, that is, 15 years later.
Still, it was really tough for Hyun Seok at the time.
“I can’t think of anything. Well, I couldn’t afford to divert my attention to something like that back then.”
In any case, Ryu Ji Hye’s magic pattern was so unique that he remembered her. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be able to recognize her at all.
“I had never been angry.” Said Hyun Seok as he shook off his thoughts.
Then Ryu Ji Hye smiled back and replied, “I have good intuitions. I’m pretty sure that you’re angry. Hehe.”
“Why would I be angry when I had no reason to? There was someone who sneaked in, so I only punished him moderately.”
Ryu Ji Hye smiled awkwardly.
“See? You ARE angry. Anyway, you’re going to let me off the hook, right?”
She looked at Hyun Seok with a charming smile. He smiled back, and Ji Hye quickly continued,
“One day, if there’s no reason for me to stay at the headquarters anymore, I’ll quit. Would you like to party up with me then?”
While saying this, she even tried to make herself more appealing with her sparkling gaze.
“I told you before, right? I’m more capable than you think. If I just reach out my hand, there will be a line of people who would want to team up with me.”
After she hinted to him that he should hurry up and ask her to join his team, she stared at Hyun Seok’s face with expectation.
Hyun Seok nodded at her words. “I’m sure there will.”
Of course, her expectations rose higher. After all, he made a positive response. She thought she’d get her desired result but…
“Then, please join a good team.” Hyun Seok said.
“Of course, I’ll be a great force to the… what?”
In anticipation of Hyun Seok’s reaction, she blurted out her prepared answer, only to pause as she realized something.
“I… I think I heard something wrong. Could you repeat that?”
Chang Soo, who was standing next to Hyun Seok, smiled slyly. With a delightful expression, he answered Ji Hye,
“You should listen when someone is talking to you. Didn’t you hear it? He said, please join a good team.”
Ryu Ji Hye turned her head and glared at Choi Chang Soo. Her eyes were so sharp that he got startled and quickly turned his eyes away.
“Umm, well… I’m just saying… Oh! And there’s nothing much to gain from a clumsy team like us, right?… and your level, it’s way beyond us, isn’t it?”
Ryu Ji Hye couldn’t answer a word back to Choi Chang Soo’s questions because it was all true.
There’s no reason for her to join the team. Her level was much higher and she was also more competent than them.
“So what?” Ryu Ji Hye growled at Choi Chang Soo.
He took a step back before responding, “Did I say anything wrong? I’m just saying that’s that. If you’re going to argue, you can argue with our boss.”
Ryu Ji Hye turned her eyes back to Hyun Seok.
Then she came close in front of him. She then raised her head and looked straight into his eyes.
“Should I REALLY go to another team?”
She was a coveted talent. But that was exactly why he didn’t want her on the team now.
The team right now won’t last long anyway.
How could he trust Choi Chang Soo and his party and work together for a long time?
But Hyun Seok couldn’t tell her that now. He still had things to do with Choi Chang Soo and his party.
Hyun Seok gazed down at her eyes with his mouth shut. And soon, he turned and walked away, not even saying a word.
Ji Hye just stood there absent-mindedly, staring at Hyun Seok’s back as he walked away.
After their party had entered the dungeon, Ryu Ji Hye came to her senses and looked around. Only then did she realize that she was drawing people’s attention.
“Hahaha…” She sighed softly.
Then she turned around and got out of the dungeon spawning area with her head down.
“This feels like shit…”
Translator and Editor Notes:
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