[Translator – woni]
[Proofreader – sharlottle]
Chapter 48: Crimes and Punishment
The headquarters of 『Infinity Guild』was a flashy building.
It was typical to be bustling with hundreds of guild members and staff.
But right now, the building was dead silent.
Not just because everyone had been ordered to leave and the entrance restricted.
It was also because there was someone guarding the silence.
A dreary space with not a single soul in sight but one.
A man with slicked back hair, his legs crossed.
He was blockading the building with various fortification skills.
Same as he had been doing for the past four days, Lee Chun-gi waited, his eyes fixed on the pocket watch in his hands.
He’d watch the second hand needle tick and tock roughly 340,000 times.
Even most high-level players would have passed out from exhaustion if they had spent 340,000 seconds without food, sleep, or rest.
But the Infinite Monarch did not bat an eye.
He simply waited for the second hand to tick 345,600 times with a stoic face, as usual.
The second hand finally reached the final second as the clock started ringing loudly.
It meant that the promised four days had passed.
Immediately, Lee Chun-gi stood up from his chair and went straight to the room that had been locked for the past four days — the secretary’s office.
But before he could get to the door handle, the door opened as another man walked out.
“What the hell? Don’t tell me you were waiting here for four whole days.”
White hair, gold eyes. A sword on his waist, and a faint scar on his eye — Limon Asphelder.
He looked to Lee Chun-gi with surprise.
But Lee Chun-gi did not answer.
He wasn’t even looking at Limon.
His eyes were fixed to only one spot — the crack in the door that stayed slightly open after Limon walked out.
Blood splatters stained every wall.
Skull and teeth marks could be clearly seen engraved onto the desk from how much force was used.
Slices of flesh thinner than paper piled up.
Bones and guts were strewn all over the place.
For a while, he stood frozen looking at the dreadfully gruesome scene.
It was hard to believe that all that came out of one person.
He barely managed to get a word out.
“Just what have you been doing for the past four days?”
“Do you really want to know?”
Lee Chun-gi answered with silence.
In truth, he did not.
He was scared to know.
Even as someone who entered the Dungeon thousands of times and bore witness to all sorts of ghastly deaths, the scene in front of him was nauseating.
Limon smirked at his transparency.
“Personally, I recommend you just incinerate this entire room.”
Get rid of it, unless you want to see someone go insane.
It was Limon's way of being courteous.
But there was still no answer.
Only his gravely sunken, placid eyes that bore into Limon.
“What? Do you feel sympathetic all of a sudden?”
Lee Chun-gi shook his head at Limon's sarcasm.
Even if Park was his closest aide, he wasn’t nearly as good-natured or virtuous enough to feel compassion for the person who deceived and used him.
“Then do you think I went too far?”
“…I can’t say that I disagree,” Lee Chun-gi replied calmly.
Anyone else would have thought the same.
In fact, there was a high chance they would have thrown up and ran away.
Any human with the bare minimum amount of morality wouldn’t know whether to regard someone who committed such an act as a human being.
Especially if the victim was crippled.
“Did you really need to kill secretary Park like this when he had already been disabled?”
After the snake abandoned Park’s body and ran off, Park was completely crippled.
His state was so despondent, he couldn’t move or talk.
It was indiscernible if he even had any consciousness left.
Yet, despite knowing Park’s sorry state, Limon still continued with the four-day murder.
It was only natural for Lee Chun-gi’s face to harden.
But Limon, the very culprit who committed those atrocities, didn’t look remorseful, let alone ashamed.
He tilted his head.
“You know this is me being extremely generous, right?”
“Are you serious right now?”
“Then do you think we’re close enough to joke around?”
Lee Chun-gi fell silent as he looked into the cold, settled, golden eyes that contradicted Limon’s lighthearted tone of voice.
He couldn’t bring himself to understand how any of this could be seen as ‘being generous’.
“You’d pass out if you saw a dark mage sacrifice a human.”
“I do not think it is lucid to compare this to human sacrifice to begin with.”
“That’s what you think.”
He wasn’t oblivious to why Lee Chun-gi had reacted as he did.
In fact, he knew far too well.
In this age, murder itself was already considered a crime.
Torturing someone to death for whatever reason was considered to be beyond brutal.
It was a heinous crime that couldn’t be called anything less than savage.
But those were the standards of this era.
“A long time ago, kid, there was a nation that paraded human sacrifices in front of a hundred thousand people.”
‘Offering oneself to the Gods was an honor.’
‘Human sacrifice was a way to heaven.’
There was once a religion where everyone believed such a doctrine.
They would volunteer to be sacrificed.
“There was a time when people watched their friends slaughter one another in a Colosseum, when public hangings were prime time entertainment.”
In times like those where everybody desired brutal slaughter—
“There was once a law that threw babies into snakes to be eaten just for being related to a criminal by blood.”
—It was determined by law that crime was inherited.
“It used to be taught that gorging on the liver of your enemy was admirable.”
It was a culture where not getting revenge was humiliating.
“There was a military that researched how to kill people more violently, more definitively.”
Wars that disposed of men like firewood.
All of that would be lunacy in current times.
But back then… Nation, religion, culture, and circumstances…
That was the natural way of things.
“Do you get it now? Do you see how petty and fragile the ‘normal’ you believe as an inexorable truth is?”
Of course, even Limon hadn’t lived through all of that history himself.
But as much as he’d come across countless changes to the norm in every nook and cranny of the world over his many hundreds of years, Limon knew all too well of the ephemerality of the ‘norm’.
“Well, it’s good that murder is a crime and violence is considered taboo.”
To say that the old days were better?
There was no doubt that the current world was a much better place to live in.
Getting used to violence and brutality could destroy one’s humanity.
Limon knew it well, and he welcomed this change.
“But I don’t think it’s ‘normal’ to let an evil man live with his head up under the pretense of ‘human rights’.”
Criminals are forgiven for their crimes for being too young.
People become criminals for self-defense.
Even the most atrocious of criminals cannot be killed.
Forgiveness is forced upon those whose parents were killed.
In this age, bottomless mercy was granted to assailants while victims were met with indifference.
Perhaps this proved that the world had become more civilized than in the past.
Perhaps it is a virtue to prevent unnecessary hatred.
But Limon couldn’t take this virtue stemming from a twisted sense of peace as granted.
He couldn’t help it — he was an old man.
A swordsman who lived his life piercing the hearts of his enemies and slitting the throats of evil.
Translator - woni
Proofreader - sharlottle
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“Who knows, maybe that son of a bitch had a good heart. Maybe someday, he could have made amends, become a new man or something.”
Perhaps Park wouldn’t have become the villain he was if he hadn’t made a deal with the snake Constellation in the first place.
Maybe he, too, was a victim of turning into a tool — whether it be because he became dependent on lying with 「Counterfeit God’s Alias」, or because he was subconsciously manipulated by the Constellation.
“That’s not my problem, though.”
Limon wasn’t interested, nor was he going to pay any mind to Park’s rights as a human or the unseen good in him.
“What’s important to me is that that motherfucker did something to deserve getting fucking killed. So I fucking killed him.”
“…Knowing that would raise suspicion about your humanity?”
“It’s better than disgracing it.”
There is one thing that mustn’t be mistaken.
Acts like murder and torture. Negative feelings like pride and avarice.
Those aren’t the only things that eat away at one’s humanity.
Vindicating justified rage.
Forcing good and justice.
In the end, those all tore a man down into a simple tool of society.
Just as pursuing or confining someone until they love you back would only break them.
“Didn’t I tell you? What I want is to be human, not a piss-for-brains pushover.”
Of course, Limon did have the inclination to follow along with the times to a certain extent.
Like how he didn’t just kill as he pleased while he was a PAB agent, no matter how deserving the criminals were.
Perhaps he would have just ended it with a scene if he was the only one affected. But the moment he cut Yoo Na-kyung with his own sword, all room for compromise was gone.
No matter how much the times, laws, or culture have changed.
As a boss, it was his duty to collect the blood debt of a subordinate who died an unjust death.
Giving that up meant that he was giving up being human.
It was different from becoming a monster.
“By the way, Lee Chun-gi.”
Limon slowly pulled out his sword.
He looked at Lee Chun-gi, his eyes cold.
“You are also responsible for Na-kyung’s death.”
Whether it was his own greed or due to the Constellations’ interference, Park was to blame for holding the orphans and making Yoo Na-kyung a suicide bomber.
But that didn’t make Lee Chun-gi innocent.
Whatever the case, he was still the one who ordered for Limon’s death.
He was the one who failed to keep his subordinate under control.
Even if he was used as a puppet, Lee Chun-gi most certainly held responsibility in this matter.
Limon never actually forgave him.
He had simply set aside the punishment until he found the real culprit.
And now that Park was dead, he had no reason to keep Lee Chun-gi alive anymore.
“Are you going to kill me?”
Limon looked at him for a while.
He shook his head.
“No, not now.”
It was quite the unexpected response.
Especially to Lee Chun-gi, who had been bracing himself for his death ever since his defeat at Limon’s hands.
“But this isn’t because you’re a Monarch.”
Limon continued in the same, fatigued voice as when he had cut Park.
“Nor is it because I’m worried about the social turmoil. I don’t need anything from you, and I’m not afraid of retaliation.”
Anyone else would have taken those factors into concern.
But none of that mattered when it came to collecting Yoo Na-kyung’s blood debt.
With the arrogant declaration that only he, a man who killed a Constellation, could make, Limon revealed the reason he chose not to kill Lee Chun-gi.
“You’re too stupid to be worthy of punishment.”
It was a ruthless remark, a judgment too cold-blooded for a Monarch.
But Lee Chun-gi did not show a single sign of rage or denial.
He himself knew better than anyone else that he deserved to hear it.
Limon continued as Lee Chun-gi stayed silent.
“Ignorance is not grounds for exoneration. You’re still on the line.”
It is utter nonsense that ignorance is not a crime.
Just that this time, the scale had tilted.
If even a speck of dust made the scale tilt the other way, Limon could always repeat what he did today.
“I’m going to keep my eyes on you.”
It was a warning, a declaration.
Just as Anubis, Watchman of the Underworld, hangs the heart of the dead on the scale and judges whether their sins are heavier than the feather.
This was the warning of an Absolute Ruler — that he would judge Lee Chun-gi’s actions until the day he dies.
“And when you cross that line…”
A pair of frameless glasses fell to the floor.
It was an article of value, made from the best craftsmen with all the riches in the world.
But it was no more than garbage compared to what Limon cuts with his word.
His shut eyes. Blood trickled out of one, eyelids trembling from the pain.
It was apparent what Limon just gashed.
What Lee Chun-gi had just lost.
“I’ll come to get the other one and your debt in 96 days,” he finished in the same sluggish voice.
It was a brutal statement.
A sentencing much too cold-blooded to say to someone who just lost an eye.
But Lee Chun-gi was not outraged, sad, afraid, or upset.
He did not use skills like「Alganesthesia」.
He simply endured the pain with a sober mind as he nodded stoically.
“…I’ll bear it in mind.”
Limon’s cold, settled eyes bore into his remaining one as if judging the authenticity of his answer.
He put his sword away and turned around.
It looked like he didn’t have any more business here.
Lee Chun-gi called out as Limon was about to leave indifferently.
“What are you going to do now?”
Limon stopped in his tracks.
It was quite the unexpected question.
He turned his head slightly to face Lee Chun-gi.
Now that he had collected Yoo Na-kyung’s blood debt, there was only one other thing to do.
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