Chapter 33: Chapter 33

Translated by: ShawnSuh

Edited by: SootyOwl

Sitting across from Ho Sung, the champion rang the bell quietly. As the manager walked toward them, shaking uncontrollably, Min Sung wiped the blood on his hands with a wet towel and said to the manager, “I’ll pay for all the damage I caused. Is our order almost ready? Oh, and we’re gonna need another bottle of soju.”

“R-right away, sir!” the manager said, frightened. After running to the kitchen, he brought out another bottle of soju.

“Are soldiers of the Central Institute in the habit of killing civilians?” Min Sung asked Ho Sung as he poured himself a cup of water.

“Rarely. They care about their reputation, surprisingly.”

“Reputation, huh?” Min Sung said, chuckling while drinking his water. At that moment, the Lich Doll, still half asleep, crawled out of his pocket. Looking at the unconscious soldiers, the doll’s deep, dark eyes sparkled dangerously.

“Master? Can I?” the doll asked.

“Can you what?” Min Sung asked back.

“Turn them into my undead minions.”

“No. Not when they’re alive,” Min Sung said. With its master’s emphatic disapproval, the doll removed the dangerous glare in its eyes almost immediately. After that, it crawled back into the champion’s pocket.

“These guys are from the Central Institute. The officials will be here any minute. Are you sure you still wanna stay here?” Ho Sung asked, peeking his head to look out the window. Instead of giving him an answer, Min Sung downed the glass of soju. The stinging sensation in his throat followed after a potent whiff of alcohol. It wasn’t exactly the tastiest. However, after the glass of soju, Min Sung felt something he had never felt before. It almost felt like the alcohol was being absorbed into his cells. At that moment, the manager brought out the appetizers with another employee, who was shaking uncontrollably just like the manager. Although they seemed unstable, the appetizers made their way to the champion’s table safely.

Min Sung examined the appetizers carefully. Just like he had been told by Ho Sung, the beef tataki had a red hue to it. Without hesitation, Min Sung’s picked up a piece of beef tataki with his chopsticks, dipped it in soy sauce mixed with wasabi, and brought it up to his mouth. Although it didn’t have much of a chew to it, its smooth texture was rather inviting. On top of that, the burning, stinging sensation from the wasabi brought out the flavor of the meat even more. Then, Ho Sung poured him another glass of soju and served him a small bowl of oden hot pot, glancing anxiously at the soldiers sprawled across the pub. However, as if paying no attention to them, Min Sung raised his glass again.

After several glasses of soju, the champion started to understand why people drank it. Although bitter in taste, the alcohol within it seemed to have a certain effect on the body. Upon disabling his immunity control, he immediately felt the unique-but-pleasant effect of the alcohol. At which point, he was able to make sense of the alcohol’s role.

‘This oden hot pot really hits the spot,’ Min Sung thought. Combined with the high-quality fish cakes and the subtly sweet, yet incredibly complex and refreshing flavors of the broth, the oden hot pot rewarded the champion with a scrumptious experience. With a satisfied smile on his face, Min Sung poured himself another glass of soju. After a shot, he savored the warm broth of the hot pot, brought a piece of fish cake up to his mouth and bit into it. The experience was even more rewarding than when he had had the broth on its own.

Although Min Sung’s preference was starting to lean toward the hot pot, it didn’t mean that the beef tataki was the inferior choice. In fact, if he hadn’t been drinking, the beef tataki would have been the preferable choice.

(TL’s Note: In Korea, people often accompany soju with some kind of savory broth.)

Just as Ho Sung had said, the atmosphere combined with the food and the understanding of the drink created a distinct experience, and it didn’t take long at all for the champion to experience it firsthand. However, the alcohol didn’t seem to have a lingering effect on the champion’s body.

‘Maybe I just haven’t had enough,’ Min Sung thought. From then on, the champion started to drink at a faster pace.

“I’m gonna be way too drunk at this rate. Sir, would you mind if I slowed down and took a break?” Ho Sung asked, and Min Sung replied, “Suit yourself,” and continued to drink. Just like that, one bottle became two; two became three; and eventually, there were over twenty empty bottles on the table. Amazed by that, Ho Sung stared at the champion, who was just as confused. Although he was slightly buzzed, he simply couldn’t get drunk. Wanting to get the full experience, Min Sung kept drinking while savoring the appetizers, but his effort was to no avail, only filling the table with even more empty bottles. It seemed to have something to do with his body’s advanced detox ability. Still, the slight buzz from the alcohol made it clear for the champion why people drank.

“Uh, sir? Seems like you’ve had quite a few there. I think we should get going,” Ho Sung said, glancing toward the entrance. Looking down at the empty plate and the nearly empty pot, Min Sung nodded and rose from his seat, reminding himself that there was always next time. At that moment…

“What the…?”

… Upon standing up, Min Sung felt yet another sensation that he had yet to feel, one that he didn’t feel while sitting down. It felt as though the alcohol was rushing up to his head, making him sluggish. Feeling the pleasant light-headedness, Min Sung chuckled inadvertently.

“Haha… This is new.”

“A-are you OK, sir?”

“I’m fine.”

With that, the champion’s eyes returned to their deep, cold appearance. With which, he looked at the soldiers sprawled across the ground, thinking, ‘Hopefully, I can have a drink in peace next time.’

Feeling as though all of the unpleasantness had been washed away by the satisfying meal and the alcohol, Min Sung pulled out his wallet and handed the manager a debit card. At which point, Ho Sung took cash out of his own pocket in a hurry and beat him to it, saying, “I got this. We should head out,”

“Why are you paying?” the champion asked.

“Paying with a card will leave a trace. Besides, I’ve been meaning to buy you a drink to thank you. OK, let’s get outta here,” Ho Sung replied, rushing out of the pub while looking around cautiously. Feeling slightly tipsy, Min Sung tilted his head back, caught his breath, and exited the pub.

After the champion and Ho Sung left, the manager and the employee, still in shock, looked in the direction the two had disappeared. Then, looking toward the unconscious soldiers on the ground, they swallowed nervously.

“Do you think we should call the cops?” the manager asked, looking at his employee, who nodded weakly and said, “I-I think so.”

“What if they come back after that?”

“On second thought, maybe not.”

“What if the Central Institute is onto us?”

“Then… We call the cops, I guess.”

“What are you saying?”

“I don’t know! I just wanna go home!” the employee said, teary-eyed. At that moment, at the sound of the door creaking open, the two looked toward it with apprehension. Unfortunately, to add to their fear, a skeleton about the size of an adult’s palm tottered into the pub.

“…?”

“……!?”

While the two were seized by fear, the Lich Doll glared at them with dark, fiery eyes. Then, black smoke started to billow from the floor. It coiled around the manager and the employee in a matter of seconds, and the two fell unconscious on the ground.

Having arrived on the scene with his team, Tae Gyum, the three-star Director of Investigations, gritted his teeth.

‘Who would dare to do something like this to soldiers from the Central Institute?’

Furious, he flung the door open and walked into the pub, where a rescue team was busy treating the wounded. It was an appalling sight.

Tae Su, the man with the dragon tattoo, had a shattered jaw, while Ji Ahn Choi, the brunette, had a wooden fragment in one shoulder, while her other arm was nearly cut off. The other three, on the other hand, seemed to be relatively unharmed on the outside. However, they were brutally injured internally.

‘Ruptured stomach, broken ribs, caved-in face… Who would do something like this? And why didn’t I hear about it from the Shadow Guild?’ Tae Gyum thought. The Shadow Guild should’ve reached out to him and offered to sell him intel, which he would purchase to analyze the situation and respond accordingly by sending the necessary manpower. Unfortunately, Tae Gyum was too late, and the perpetrator had long left the scene. At that moment…

“Sir,” one of his subordinates came and called to him, adding, “The two witnesses are claiming that they have no recollection of the suspect’s face. All of the surveillance footage and the black boxes of all of the cars in the area were removed.”

At the subordinate’s description of the situation, Tae Gyum was struck by a sudden realization, ‘Could it be!? The same man who killed the basilisk!?’ Seeing a correlation between the two seemingly unrelated cases, Tae Gyum walked out of the crime scene for a smoke and immersed himself in thought with a furrowed brow.

Seoul wasn’t the only city with anonymous organizations. In fact, they were all across the country, and the word was that there were hunters among them who were even more powerful than miscellaneous types. Always moving in the shadows, the mysterious hunters hadn’t been seen since the monster break.

‘Yet, they’re starting to turn up now? No, this isn’t like them. This is way too obvious and explicit. Besides, they wouldn’t leave a mess like this. There has to be a third-party involved here,’ Tae Gyum thought, looking back at the pub with a stiff expression.