Along with a piggy squeal, Kim Myung-Woon flew away like a cannonball and slammed into the wall.
As soon as a sound that shouldn’t have come from when a person met a solid wall did come out, Choi Jung-Hoon shot up from his seat. Even if Yi Ji-Hyuk was angry, there were still some things a person should never do!!
With a furious expression, Choi Jung-Hoon shouted out.
“What are you doing?!” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Yi Ji-Hyuk’s gaze shifted over to Choi Jung-Hoon. With an anguished tone of voice, Choi Jung-Hoon continued to shout.
“I told you to mind the walls!! The walls!!!” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Hey, you crazy son of a b*tch!! Worry about people first!! The people!! (The author)
Other ability users all looked at Choi Jung-Hoon with dumbfounded faces.
Just what was this guy worried about here?! A human being flew and got embedded in the wall like that, yet he was saying what now?!
This guy wasn’t like this in the beginning, yet what the hell….
“This is still a brand-new building, don’t you get that?! What will you do if a crack ends up forming somewhere?? Please, please!! Cautiously beat that guy up so there would be no damage to the building!!” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“U-uh. Oh, uh….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Even Yi Ji-Hyuk ended up nodding his head after being subjected to Choi Jung-Hoon’s intense zeal.
“You think the budget for the building repairs just falls out of sky or something?! Do you have any idea the number of official documents I must submit, just to get the repair for that wall approved?!” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Choi Jung-Hoon looked as if the proverbial flames would bellow out from his wide-open, shouting mouth, and Yi Ji-Hyuk began visibly flinching now.
“….I’m very sorry.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
It was at this point that Affeldrichae also flinched, too.
….Did he just apologise?
That Yi Ji-Hyuk did?!
The man who blew away someone else’s royal palace during a failed magical experiment and defended himself by asking why the castle was in his way in the first place?? (Affeldrichae’s inner monologue)
Affeldrichae stared at Choi Jung-Hoon with an unreadable expression on her face.
I wonder, does that man understand the kind of precedent he just set here today?
Indeed, what he had done, it is a universe-shattering moment, never mind worthy of being recorded in the annals of history. (Affeldrichae’s inner monologue)
“So, you heard him, right?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk walked over to the still-disoriented Kim Myung-Woon and grabbed his collars.
“Not sure why you wanted a piece of me, but well, I’ll humour you.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Park Sung-Chan clicked his tongue.
‘How can you not know the reason?!’ (Park Sung-Chan)
“Groan….” (Kim Myung-Woon)
Yi Ji-Hyuk waved his right hand about, and a jet-black Gate suddenly formed there.
At the same time, there were a number of people present in the room being showered in cold sweat.
“Oopsie….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk yanked Kim Myung-Woon off the wall, dragged the poor guy over to the Gate, and threw him inside.
“Uwaaaaaaahhhh……..” (Kim Myung-Woon)
Kim Myung-Woon’s screams as he fell ever deeper inside the Gate got progressively smaller and smaller, until it couldn’t be heard anymore.
Seeing this Kim Dah-Hyun’s body shuddered slightly.
“Did he… did he go to that place?” (Kim Dah-Hyun)
“B-but, he will die if he goes there alone, though?” (Kim Dah-Hyun)
Yi Ji-Hyuk shook his head.
“Oh, no. It’s not that place.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Whew. That means he won’t die, then.” (Kim Dah-Hyun)
“Yup. I won’t kill him.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk stepped on the Gate’s edge, and smiled brightly.
“I’ll be back as soon as I can, okay?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
And then, Yi Ji-Hyuk jumped inside the Gate. With that, only the Gate with its black mouth wide-open remained in the spot.
“….S-so, why did he go there, too?”
One could say that would be a reasonable question to ask, but at the same time, if everyone could guess the reason, then it failed to qualify as a proper question.
“To beat him up.”
“To break him in half.”
“To kill that guy.”
Park Sung-Chan shook his head.
“Eii, he said he wouldn’t kill the Red Rock, didn’t he?” (Park Sung-Chan)
“But, all he does is lie whenever he opens his mouth!”
“Well, there’s that, too.” (Park Sung-Chan)
It was oh-so obvious what would happen inside the Gate.
Especially for the ‘Spitfire’ Yun Hyuk-Gyu; his complexion was utterly pale-white as if the trauma of his terrible past had reared its ugly head or some such.
It was the same story with the ‘Path Drifter’ Kim Dah-Hyun, his expression also not very good. After all, he also suffered at Yi Ji-Hyuk’s hands for a short period of time in the past, too.
The conference room became gradually quieter and quieter.
Didn’t someone once say that rather than actually witnessing the event, imagining it was far more terrifying, instead?
Just from imagining the ordeal Kim Myung-Woon was going through inside that Gate right now, everyone here found it too hard to say something out aloud.
Meanwhile, the worst possible scenarios each of these folks could come up with, began playing out inside their heads in vivid technicolor.
“No way, he wouldn’t go that far….”
“….It can’t be.”
Affeldrichae studied them and chuckled softly to herself.
‘Humans are such an amusing species.’ (Affeldrichae)
They thought, they imagined, and they feared even though no one told them to do so.
Wasn’t that the oddest thing, ever?
It was then, the Gate buzzed and vibrated, before Yi Ji-Hyuk’s head peeked out over the edge.
“It hasn’t been that long, right?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Choi Jung-Hoon nodded his head.
“Yes, it hasn’t been long.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“Cool.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk exited from the Gate, and reached back inside to pull Kim Myung-Woon out. And the attention of everyone present was focused on the latter. Strangely enough, Kim Myung-Woon looked perfectly fine outwardly.
“He’s unhurt?” (Park Sung-Chan)
Park Sung-Chan exclaimed in surprise.
“I thought he’d be half-dead by now….”
“Well, I figured he’d be disabled, at the least.”
“Yeah. I thought it’d be amazing if he came back alive.”
Park Sung-Chan continued to look on, mystified, before he spotted Kim Myung-Woon’s dazed eyes and began shuddering ever so slightly.
Park Sung-Chan slowly walked towards Kim Myung-Woon and waved his hand in front of the latter’s face.
“….There’s no response?!” (Park Sung-Chan)
Park Sung-Chan felt the cold sweat trickling down his backside as he grasped Kim Myung-Woon’s shoulder.
“Hey man. You okay?” (Park Sung-Chan)
Park Sung-Chan’s very bitter expression confronted Yi Ji-Hyuk.
“Will he ever go back to how he was?” (Park Sung-Chan)
“Probably?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Okay, how long will that take?” (Park Sung-Chan)
“Hmm, who knows.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
How can you say that after you wrecked a guy to this extent?! He didn’t even do anything that bad to deserve this treatment! (Park Sung-Chan)
“Maybe it was a bit too mu….” (Park Sung-Chan)
Park Sung-Chan stopped talking there, and immediately shut his mouth. Yi Ji-Hyuk looked him and smirked slightly.
“Don’t worry about him. I took him somewhere else and did my thing so you guys won’t get affected, and he will revert back to normal sooner than you think.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Really?” (Park Sung-Chan)
“Have you ever seen me lying to you before?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
….I wanna say I have, but I can’t remember!! This is so unfair!! (Park Sung-Chan’s inner monologue)
Yi Ji-Hyuk shifted his gaze back to the dazed-eyed Kim Myung-Woon and his slack jaw, and lightly clicked his tongue.
‘This…. Isn’t the side effect harsher than I thought?’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk didn’t technically torment the guy.
Nope, he just got a bit curious about what would happen if a ‘regular’ human were to absorb a little bit of dark Mana, so he forced a small amount into the poor guy, that was all.
Sure, it’d be normal for some sort of side effects to manifest.
Such as, simultaneous multiple organ failures, his body twisting around in weird ways, or his bones snapping in random places – those would be seen as relatively minor. But the real problem would be psychological in nature.
‘Hmm, but he hasn’t completely lost his mind, has he?’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
One could say that dark magic’s essence was ‘corruption’. (TL: the original Korean – Hanja – word used could mean variety of negative things. I decided to go with corruption here because that sounded the best to me personally.)
The dark magic was basically an amalgamation of every negative emotion found in the world, and someone injected with a dose of dark magical energy would see his or her mind erode away until it was completely taken over by the darkness itself and become inert.
This was one such result.
Yi Ji-Hyuk had already extracted the dark Mana out from the poor guy, yet his collapsed mental state hadn’t reformed yet. It was a relief to see him not go on a violent rampage, at least….
So, what should he do here?
Yi Ji-Hyuk began pondering on how to put to use the result of today’s experimentation. But his thought train couldn’t go on for long.
“Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“Shouldn’t you get started?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“Ahh. Right, I called for this meeting, after all.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk stood in front once more and opened his mouth.
“Mm. Okay, the Americans sent us another request.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“They want me to train them, but I think it’ll be better if other people train them, instead.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“That is why, I’m going to train you all first. Understand?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Everyone suddenly grinned refreshingly and turned to look at Choi Jung-Hoon.
“Hah…..” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Who knew that he now had to translate Korean to Koreans….
Choi Jung-Hoon got up from his seat and walked to the front.
He lightly patted on the brightly-smiling Yi Ji-Hyuk’s shoulder and asked him to sit down, before taking over the empty podium.
“The American government has officially requested us with the training of their ability users. It seems that after witnessing the enhanced combat strengths of the NDF agents, they must think that Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk holds some kind of a secret method for a quick power-up.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Park Sung-Chan began gnashing his teeth.
‘You crazy fools, you’re asking for trouble without knowing what you’re getting yourselves into!!’ (Park Sung-Chan)
Park Sung-Chan was this close to rushing over there and dragging away the fools asking for the favour, before personally throwing them all inside Yi Ji-Hyuk’s Gate.
They could only mutter this nonsense out because they hadn’t personally experienced hell yet!!
Not too surprisingly, the expressions of all those who had experienced the events inside the black Gate were pretty rough as if they were thinking the same thing.
“So, what now? Are we going to help them out? And besides that, what does this news have to do with us?” (Park Sung-Chan)
“What Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk means is that you’d be the ones to train the Americans.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“To be more precise, he’s thinking of a pyramid-like training structure involving everyone, where the top-tier users will be training the upper class users, while the upper class users will be training the mid-tier users, so on and so forth. It does make sense, this scheme. Even if it was Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk, it’d be impossible to train every single ability user in the world.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Not only that, this method guaranteed the least amount of casualties, too.
Yi Ji-Hyuk could’ve simply thrown the whole lot inside the Gate and let them stew inside for a while, but then again, the number of casualties would be way too high to count if he did that.
Kim Dah-Hyun understood the situation and spoke up.
“Mm, so what you’re saying is, the Americans want to be trained….” (Kim Dah-Hyun)
“Yes.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“And we have to train them, is that the gist of the situation?” (Kim Dah-Hyun)
“Yes, that is the situation.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“…Well, the differences between us and them aren’t that great to begin with, so how can we even begin to train them?” (Kim Dah-Hyun)
They were talking about the American ability users here – reputedly the best in the world.
And the Koreans were being asked to train the Americans, when they had people like the world-famous ‘Sniper’ and ‘Red Fever’ counted among their numbers?
What a laughable notion that was.
“That is why Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk has summoned you all here today.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Kim Dah-Hyun suddenly sensed something ominous was creeping ever closer and clenched his fist real tight.
Could it be…?
No, it can’t be…
“If you lack the ability now, then all you have to do is get stronger.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk’s voice reverberated like a thunderclap.
So, what he’s saying is….
We have to get stronger…?
What happened to me the last time I heard that? (Kim Dah-Hyun’s inner monologue)
“N-no, it can’t be! Again?!”
Those who had experienced Yi Ji-Hyuk’s Gate before all shot up from their seats.
And then… they hurriedly distanced themselves away from Yi Ji-Hyuk.
“Oh, no. That won’t do.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Just as Yi Ji-Hyuk was about to make a move to stop them, the exit was suddenly flung open – and Seo Ah-Young began desperately running away.
Yi Ji-Hyuk didn’t expect Seo Ah-Young to be the first one to run away like that, so he began chuckling wryly to himself, before a black tentacle shot out from the end of his extended finger. It instantly flew out of the door.
Seo Ah-Young screamed out loudly as she was dragged back inside the conference room.
Yi Ji-Hyuk dangled up Seo Ah-Young in the air with the black tentacle and grinned brightly.
“Why are you running away?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Hey, you crazy son of a b*tch!! You’re trying to shove me back in that place again, right?! I’m not going! Definitely not!! I’ll never go back to that place again!!” (Seo Ah-Young)
“Hang on a minute here. I told you, I made a mistake last time, so this time, I properly calculated the difference in time flow, okay?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“I’m no goinnnnnnng!!” (Seo Ah-Young)
Yi Ji-Hyuk dug his ear canal as if he couldn’t hear her, and waved his hand around to create a new Gate.
“NOOOOO!!” (Seo Ah-Young)
“I’m telling you, it’s not the same place as the last time, so you can be rest assured.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“….Really?” (Seo Ah-Young)
“Well, the last place was a picnic area compared to the new one, though!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“You son of a….” (Seo Ah-Young)
Just as Seo Ah-Young was about to scream blue murder, the tentacle swung about and chucked her inside the Gate.
From the inside of the black void, myriad of colourful insults flew as they grew fainter and fainter, but well, Yi Ji-Hyuk’s ears already featured a high-level insult filtration system.
So, he couldn’t hear any of them.
“M-Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk, let’s, let’s talk about this………”
“Mm, well, we don’t have much time….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
A truly evil grin crept up on Yi Ji-Hyuk’s face.
“Let’s talk after I throw every one of you inside first.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk’s tentacles reached out and began throwing NDF agents one by one inside the black Gate.
“Why don’t you just kill me instead, you b*stard!!”
Those who knew what was going on trembled in fear, and those who didn’t could only tremble from the fear of the unknown.
After painstakingly chucking everyone inside, Yi Ji-Hyuk swept his glance over at the remaining folks – Choi Jung-Hoon, Jeong Hae-Min, Doh Gah-Yun, and Affeldrichae.
….Oh, and also Kim Jae-Beom.
“A-am I also going there this time?” (Jeong Hae-Min)
Yi Ji-Hyuk didn’t even bother to answer Jeong Hae-Min’s inquiry, grabbed her by the scruff of her neck, and chucked her inside the Gate.
He thought he heard the sound of a childish crying coming from somewhere, but he was probably mistaken.
Ng, okay. So now….
“You too.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Doh Gah-Yun wordlessly jumped inside the Gate.
“You, as well.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“W, w, what? Me too?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Choi Jung-Hoon began shuddering.
“But, why me?!” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
I’m a powerless regular person!! You b*stard!!
“You can only claim to be a true team member after sharing their pain, don’t you agree?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“I’m tending my resignation.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“After you return.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk easily picked Choi Jung-Hoon up and chucked him inside the Gate as well. As he fell, the latter man bitterly shouted out.
“Uwaaaah?! I’m just a paper pusher, so whyyyyy?!” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Yi Ji-Hyuk cackled to himself and looked at Kim Jae-Beom.
“Hold the fort until we get back, okay?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Eh? Ah, y-yes!” (Kim Jae-Beom)
“Let’s go.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Affeldrichae and Yi Ji-Hyuk jumped inside the Gate and it closed up slowly afterwards.
“….Just what the hell happened in here?” (Kim Jae-Beom)
Kim Jae-Beom, now left all alone inside the empty conference room, swept his dazed eyes around his surroundings.
Kim Jae-Beom spat out a helpless groan.
How was he supposed to handle all the calls coming in now?
But still, it was way better than getting dragged in there, so….
With a half-laughing, half-crying face, Kim Jae-Beom trudged back to the office.
< 141. Why are you running away? -1 > Fin.
(TL: I hope you all had a great Christmas.)