Return To Player Chapter 60

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Return To Player

# 60 Hidden Bomb (2)

If one were to summarize the woman named Hong Ga-eun in a single phrase, it’s “prosecutor.” But not merely in a professional sense–rather, she could be described as a swordsman straight out of a classic legend. Rigid, deeply loyal to superiors, and finding joy in daily training. Had she been born in the Joseon era, she would have undoubtedly become a warrior.
To put it nicely, that is. Alternatively, one might say there’s no one stranger than her.
“Why on earth does such a woman exist in modern times?”
What she did before this world turned into a game is curious indeed.
And this isn’t some remote backwater; it’s Seoul, the capital of South Korea.
“Take this!”
Swoosh!
At any rate, her skill alone is undeniable.
Her level of sharp perception is nearly on par with or exceeds that of Chang-woo.
Park Sung-hyuk, the guild master of Genesis, may not be known as a particularly strong player, but Hong Ga-eun was unquestionably formidable.
“Not just a simpleton, are you!”
Even her choice of words was peculiar.
She definitely speaks common Seoul dialect, but from time to time, her speech is peppered with archaic terms that you’d expect in historical dramas.
Well, that’s beside the point.
“When someone speaks, you should listen.”
I lightly bent the back of my hand downwards, ejecting a long blade.
This was new gear that I had requested Siwoo to make.
It’s a vambrace you wear on your forearm, housing a blade, with orichalcum built into it so I could coat whatever weapon I had in hand with orichalcum at any time.
Similarly, the blade that shot out could be coated with orichalcum just as well.
I raised my hand and deflected Ga-eun’s sword with ease.
“Hmph!”
But no sooner had I deflected it, her sword took a sharp turn and flew towards my throat.
It must have been a skill, as the force was much stronger than before.
Clang!
Ga-eun’s sword broke and spun through the air before plummeting to the ground.
“My sword…?”
A look of confusion crossed Ga-eun’s face.
It seems she hadn’t expected her sword to break so easily.
“Now, let us talk.”
Before I could finish my sentence, she swiftly pulled her belt and swung it at me.
“Whip Sword?!”
I was taken aback by the attack that grazed past my cheek.
I hadn’t expected that the belt she wore would be a whip sword.
I had never encountered an opponent who wielded a whip sword before.
After dodging the undulating attack of the whip sword, I stepped on the flat of the blade and drove it into the ground.
“Ugh!”
Ga-eun tried to pull her buried sword out, but as I was stepping on it, she couldn’t extract it and finally let go without hesitation. Subsequently, she pulled out two short swords hidden under her skirt and charged at me.
It figured why she was wearing a skirt—it was to conceal her weapons.
“Seriously, how many swords do you carry?”
Fortunately, the quality of her weapons was poor, and they broke easily under my counterattacks.
It was after breaking seven more of Ga-eun’s swords that I finally subdued her.
“Curse it, kill him.”
Only after she had exhausted all her weapons did Ga-eun kneel down with an expression of frustration.
I had never encountered such a tenacious opponent in my life.
It was also new to me that there were so many places on a human body where one could conceal swords.
“I came here to talk.”
“I have no interest in talking to a rat.”
“Not you—I want to speak with someone else. The guild master of Genesis.”
The mention of the guild master of Genesis sparked a murderous gleam in Ga-eun’s eyes again.
Left unchecked, she would likely draw another sword from somewhere on her body and charge at me.
“I am an associate of the Dearside Guild.”
“What?”
“Don’t make me say it twice. I am an associate of the Dearside Guild, and I’ve come to speak with your guild master.”
“Is that true?”
“Yes.”
I half expected her to question how she could believe such a claim, but to my surprise, she readily accepted it.
“Alright, if you’re from Dearside, then that changes things.”
Hong Ga-eun hastily gathered her broken swords and motioned for me to follow her.
Such a refreshing attitude from someone who had just been glaring murderously moments ago.
Park Sung-hyuk’s office was on the seventh floor of the building.
As we entered the room, Park Sung-hyuk looked up from the map he had been examining and his gaze fixed on us.
“Miss Ga-eun, who is that behind you?”
“He claims to be an associate of the Dearside Guild.”
“Really? Is that true?”
“Yes, he said so.”
Ga-eun answered briskly.
On the contrary, Park Sung-hyuk’s expression soured.
His look seemed to reprimand her for trusting me enough to bring me this far.
The problem was that the person receiving his questioning gaze seemed completely oblivious to it.
‘It’s like looking at a Three Kingdoms general who invested all stats into strength…’
Despite Park Sung-hyuk’s gaze, Hong Ga-eun just looked puzzled.
If asked who the most naive player in Genesis was, the answer would definitely be Hong Ga-eun.
“Just a moment.”
Feeling a slight sense of obligation for guiding me here, I decided to help her out a bit.
“I am, in fact, truly an associate of the Dearside Guild.”
“How can I believe that?”
“Constellation.”
Park Sung-hyuk’s eyes widened.
He knew better than anyone what the mention of “constellation” meant.
“If you understand its significance, then our conversation can turn in a new direction. Please come this way and have a seat.”
The fact that dungeons currently take the shape of constellations was something only known to Genesis and Dearside, and within Genesis, only known to Park Sung-hyuk and Hong Ga-eun. Thus, my knowledge of it served as indirect proof of my affiliation with Dearside.
“Miss Ga-eun.”
“Yes, Guild Master.”
“…You’ve worked hard. Go rest.”
“No, I will stay here.”
“It’s alright. Please leave.”
Her face slightly wounded by Park Sung-hyuk’s firm tone, Hong Ga-eun slumped her shoulders.
“Understood. If there’s any trouble, call for me immediately.”
She turned her back and left the room quietly.
“You’ve been through a lot.”
I sincerely commended her.
“Still, she’s a competent vice-guild master. …Even if she lacks knowledge in some areas.”
Though it seemed more like she lacked tact and thought, I chose to let that slide.
“So, may I ask why have you come here?”
“You were the ones who reached out to us first.”
“I cannot deny that.”
Park Sung-hyuk took a sip from a teacup on the table before continuing.
“From your mention of constellations, I gather you were already aware.”
“Of course.”
Normally, I’d mirror the other person’s speech level, but in this case, I couldn’t afford to do so.
I had to show strength in order to negotiate effectively.
I don’t need to be compensated. Especially because I needed to be more forceful for the demands I would be making in the future. “Then, may I assume you came here today to release the control over the dungeon?” “No.”

I shook my head.

“It’s better to keep the control. Do not disclose our contact to other guilds. They might do something foolish.”
“Excuse me?”
Park Seong-hyuk had a face that could not comprehend. Of course, it was strange for me to insist on keeping the control over a dungeon that gives points for quests when imprinted.
“May I ask the reason?”
“I planned to tell you even if you didn’t ask.”
I looked at the map lying on the table. It showed the locations of each dungeon, much like the map in the Deicide Guild. “Among the dungeons in Seoul, avoid these places and these places.” I pointed to two specific dungeons.
“And do not enter the 16 dungeons that will appear near here.”
“It’s as if something will happen if we enter them.”
“And something will.”
My fingers traced a pattern on the map that was not yet marked, following the traces of the stars. It was one of the twelve constellations of the zodiac, ‘Scorpio.’
“Those bastards have hidden a bomb here.”
The eighth constellation of Scorpio, known for its ferocity, harbored a fragment in hiding. The problem was that even I didn’t know its exact location.
***
It was one of the most hellish events I had ever experienced in a previous life. I didn’t know where it all started. I couldn’t know; everyone died. The incident began with the emergence of the Scorpio’s dungeon.
Some guild entered the dungeon without much thought and woke up a monster within, starting the nightmare.
It was because someone had played a small prank in the dungeon. It wasn’t the Game Master (GM).
It was probably the publisher who sprinkled a little seasoning to entertain the gods, as a GM wouldn’t cause such a big problem without facing more than just a salary cut.
Considering that this happened only in the Seoul area where there were the most players in Korea, it could’ve been an incident instigated by a god using a different server.
‘Anyway.’
The publisher had replaced one of the imprints in a dungeon with a fragment containing the power of Scorpio. A player, assuming it to be an ordinary imprint stone, imbued it with magical power. The fragment, stimulated by the player’s magical power, absorbed the surrounding magic and the players’ magical energy before hatching completely.
The awakened scorpion killed all the players and escaped from the dungeon, starting the tragedy. Although it wasn’t Scorpio itself, the players at the time couldn’t handle even that fragment. Plus, there wasn’t just one scorpion awake; there were two.
It took merely a week for the two scorpions to wreak havoc on a third of Seoul. Though they were eventually brought down, the battle decimated Outrising and left Fiorezza and Genesis to lick their wounds for a while. Following this, the players in Seoul shook in terror for a long time, and their growth slowed considerably.
This issue affected the following quests and continued to plague the players. Due to this incident, Korea always had a shortage of players compared to other regions. Hence, I had to prevent this event at all costs. ‘There are eighteen stars representing Scorpio.’
Accordingly, there were a total of 18 dungeons. Bombs were hidden in two of them. Fortunately, the first two dungeons that appeared were safe. The incident occurred in two of the sixteen dungeons that appeared later.
‘I’ve been keeping an eye on the first two dungeons just in case the system had changed.’
Luckily, there were no players in either dungeon since they appeared after control was established. Now, I just had to be cautious about the remaining sixteen.
However, I couldn’t just leave them be, as they would burst out and turn the city into a wasteland. They would hatch by absorbing magic. It was the egg of Antares from Scorpio.
Therefore, in a previous life, it was activated when players injected magic into it. One might think it would be safe if left alone, but the dungeon was filled with magical energy. The eggs were absorbing magic like breathing all the while. Injecting magic was merely the fuse. It would be easy to destroy the eggs before they hatched… ‘But since the content of the game has changed, there might be additional measures needed.’ I hoped not, but the probability was high
“…A bomb, you say?”
Park Seong-hyuk pondered the meaning of my words. Whether it was a metaphor or if there was actually a bomb.
“I can’t explain, but dungeons forming in Scorpio’s position possess something that could turn Seoul into a sea of blood.”

“You expect me to believe that?” “If you can’t trust me, I can show you directly.”
Searching the upcoming dungeons would reveal it soon enough. Others might not, but I’d notice it immediately.
“Consider it an effect of a skill I possess.”
“And the evidence for that?” Asked Park Seong-hyuk seriously, I pointed to a location on the map with my finger.
“A new dungeon will appear here in two days’ time. It’s worth 7 points, but it’s better to claim it.”
“Why?”
“Because it contains a Mithril vein.” Mithril is the most extraordinary metal currently obtainable. A grade B material that can’t even be acquired through regular channels. Naturally, Park Seong-hyuk’s eyes widened. “Is that true?”
“It is.”
“But we agreed not to lay claim on dungeons for now…”
“Just don’t imprint it. Isn’t it enough to visually confirm the presence of a Mithril vein?”
My relaxed words made Park Seong-hyuk nod slowly.
“Understood. If a Mithril vein really appears in two days’ time, then I will believe what you’ve said.”
“Good,” I responded curtly, watching Park Seong-hyuk who still seemed disbelieving. Unlike Hong Ga-eun, who trusted people too easily, he was at the other extreme.
‘In two days, he’d have no choice but to believe.’
With that thought, I left Park Seong-hyuk’s office. There was no further conversation to be had. Two days later, a note arrived. Of course, it was from Park Seong-hyuk.

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