Max Talent Player
[Translator – Lei ]
[Proofreader – Ash ]
The person at the end of Hyukjin’s finger, Mark, tilted his head.
“Do you know me?”
“Yes. You’re Mark, an archer.”
“How is it that you know me?”
“I’m friends with Pietro.”
Pietro was sure to have approached Mark with a request to cooperate already. At the very least, Michelle had to know Pietro. Sure enough, Michelle jumped in.
“Very well. Let’s say you’re friends with Pietro. But why do you want Mark? It can’t be that you’re…”
Her eyes narrowed. She almost asked if he was gay, but resisted.
Hyukjin said quickly, “I’m in need of an archer. To clear a dungeon.”
“An archer?” Understanding seemed to dawn on Michelle. “As it is, Pietro made a request to us. He asked for Mark.”
“I think you know what I’m talking about, then. I would like to Play with Mark.”
“I refused Pietro then, and I’ll refuse you now.”
Hyukjin knew she would refuse. In the past, Mark hadn’t gone into the Wingless Angel Statue Gate.
“Open your trade window for me real quick.”
Michelle activated her trade window and nearly let out a gasp.
The Mighty Elbow.
A legendary bow. Its attack power was a staggering 55-68. She had never seen a long-ranged weapon of this level.
This one was a [?] item that was won by Xu Xin for $1.5 million in the auction just now.
Sacred Water Drop.
It, too, was a [?] item. One that was won by Xu Xin for $1 million.
‘Kim Hyukjin really did steal them!’
What ‘are you accusing a random person of being a thief’? Remembering his guiltless face as he spouted such nonsense nearly made her lose it.
‘How did he do it?’
But that wasn’t important right now.
“Really, Ms. Michelle. It’s a pity something so unsavory happened in a place under your management.”
“Do you have any right to say that?”
This was a critical blow to Michelle as well. A theft happened unnoticed in her place of business, and she couldn’t inflict any punishment whatsoever on the thief? What’s more, she was talking to that very thief right now with a trade window open between them.
‘How can he be so brazen when he’s the thief?’
The thief being so bold and shameless left Michelle at a loss for words.
Kim Hyukjin whispered to her, “Your security is too weak, stop there.”
The quick-witted Players of the Michelle Division took a few steps back. Michelle’s voice also became very quiet.
“Was that a threat just now?”
‘Honor’ was a very important value to a sovereign. If this got out, it could deal a huge blow to Michelle.
“No, I want to give these to you. So we can reach a deal.”
Hyukjin pressed the ‘Accept Trade’ button. Now, the two of them just had to press the ‘OK’ button, and the items would be hers. Michelle could read his intent.
‘You want me to get on the same boat as you, is that it?’
The recklessness of this thief in turning the host into an accomplice was truly something else. And yet, it occurred to her that this recklessness was Kim Hyukjin’s greatest weapon, and he was all too good at wielding it.
Michelle asked just to make sure.
“Mark. If you could get a legendary bow, would you take on any risk, no matter how dangerous?”
“A legendary bow?”
“A bow with an attack power of 55-68, +5 Agility, and a special skill called Double Shot.”
Mark responded at once. “Of course. Of course I would take on any risk for a bow like that.”
“Even if it’s the place Pietro wanted to clear?”
“Of course. I’ve never even seen a legendary bow, and it even has bonus Agility stats and a special skill. I would jump into the fires of hell if I could get my hands on that.”
Mark’s eyes were shining. He was truly tempted by the term ‘legendary’. Hyukjin grinned. It seemed the deal was done.
“I’d like to make an additional trade.” He proposed the same thing he had asked Hyun Junghwa. “I would also like to request Mark’s assistance in Korea’s Sangam World Cup Stadium Dungeon and Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay Dungeon. Though, well, you’re free to refuse.”
“Will you go into those places as well?”
“Yes. We would go in together.”
“Then we’ll consider it.”
“However, I will have first pick on everything coming from those places. This is a request from someone who is being stripped of all his power as a Player and getting chased out of the States. Surely you can entertain such a small request?”
“The way you say it, someone might really believe you.”
In any case, a temporary contract was established.
“Let’s trade after we look into those places a little more.”
“Then can I head out?”
“I think it’ll look better to haul you out on a stretcher.”
Michelle spoke quickly. “What about breaking your leg for real? I’ll be sure to take responsibility for healing you later.”
“But wouldn’t it be best to be thorough? I think this is the right call for a seeker of perfection like yourself.”
“The auction hall is crawling with top Rankers. Are you sure you can fool their eyes?”
“It is the surefire way, but…”
Hyukjin was silent for a moment. When he thought about it, she was right.
Top Rankers. Fooling their eyes wasn’t necessarily impossible, but doing things the sure way was best, and one or two broken parts could be quickly repaired by a healer.
Michelle smiled warmly.
“How about it? One leg, one arm. Let’s just break those, shall we?”
In the end, Hyukjin nodded. It was minor, but she got him this time.
“Please be gentle.”
* * *
Translator - Lei
Proofreader - Ash
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* * *
The public was told that the Korean assailant ‘lost all power as a Player’. He was also carried out with a broken arm and leg, a display all the top Rankers had witnessed.
Song Kiyeol didn’t make much of a complaint.
“The Taeguk Shield guildmaster isn’t doing anything?”
“Guess that means he tacitly agrees with Michelle’s judgment.”
“Michelle will probably give them huge compensation behind the scenes. To Xu Xin and Taeguk Shield.”
They were also fairly clear on how this world worked.
“It’s basically a show. To parade Michelle’s strength and authority.”
If it wasn’t, there was no need to carry out that debilitated attendant on a stretcher when one spell from a healer would fix him up right as rain. Everyone knew that, and everyone understood Michelle’s intent. And no one found it strange.
“What’ll happen to Xu Xin?”
“Bet it’ll be different from the attendant. It’s Xu Xin, after all.”
Everyone thought Xu Xin would get a slap on the wrist and be released. But it wasn’t as they expected. Michelle came up to the stage, briefly pausing the auction, and spoke through a microphone.
“Before entering this hall, everyone signed a contract.”
And thus began Michelle’s long speech. To summarize it, her point was, ‘Everyone here signed an agreement accepting punishment if you cause a disturbance at this event, right?’
“That’s why I completely deprived the Taeguk Shield attendant of his power.”
It wasn’t just a few broken limbs. This was a kind of warning. A warning that she had a way to artificially deprive a Player of their miraculous power. Michelle was announcing to the top Rankers that she had such a means at her disposal.
“I broke his arm and leg to set an example and sent him back to Korea. He will never be able to return to Playing in his lifetime.”
Michelle gave a small nod to Song Kiyeol.
“I wish to thank the Guildmaster of Taeguk Shield for his cooperation. Thank you. You gave up your subordinate for the sake of impartiality, and I was impressed by your dedication to upholding justice.”
No one here believed those words entirely, but they were just spoken for appearances anyway. Michelle herself didn’t put much significance into them. She just said them because she had to.
“Also, regarding Mr. Xu Xin, who initiated this incident…”
Michelle took a breath. It wasn’t like this was easy for her, either. Xu Xin was a giant. But she had to set an example, so Michelle made a decision.
“He will be treated the same way as the Taeguk Shield attendant. As he has already suffered severe injury to his shoulders and abdomen, I deemed further physical punishment unnecessary. Mr. Xu Xin is currently unconscious.”
The Taeguk Shield attendant was deprived of his Player rights and two of his limbs were broken. Similarly, Xu Xin had his Player rights taken away, meaning he was ‘stripped of his power as a Player’.
The Rankers gathered in the hall murmured amongst themselves.
“She did that to Xu Xin?”
“The attendant is one thing, but Xu Xin?”
“Wowzo. Michelle’s got guts.”
“It means she’s confident she can deal with the aftermath.”
“But still, it’s Xu Xin.”
After checking the crowd’s reaction, Michelle continued. “Now then, we will continue the auction.”
* * *
Thomas went to Michelle’s room. He looked a little angry.
“What are you thinking?”
He wasn’t able to confront her in an official setting, but this was her private quarters. Thomas was Michelle’s closest friend and deputy. He didn’t hide his feelings.
Michelle took a seat on the sofa.
“Is this about Xu Xin?”
“Yeah. You should have stopped at the Taeguk Shield attendant.”
The Taeguk Shield attendant was just that—an attendant. There wouldn’t be much backlash even if he was killed. After all, an attendant was just an attendant. But Xu Xin was different. Dealing with the aftermath would be difficult.
Michelle responded calmly, seemingly unaware of Thomas’ feelings.
“But then it wouldn’t be fair.”
“If you wanted it to be fair, you should have let the attendant off.”
“If I did that, our prestige would drop to rock bottom. As the sponsor, I needed to be impartial.”
“But still! It’s Xu Xin we’re talking about, Xu Xin!”
Michelle chuckled. She went back to what Thomas had said earlier. “You said I should have let the attendant off, right?”
Puzzled by the sudden tangent, Thomas faltered. Michelle immediately continued.
“That’s what I did.”
“What do you mean?”
Thomas had been managing the auction, so he didn’t know about the ‘secret deal’ between Michelle, the Michelle Division, and Kim Hyukjin. Michelle had everyone swear to absolute secrecy.
“The attendant is fine. The only one who got messed up is Xu Xin.”
After a moment of silence, Thomas checked if he had heard her right.
“What did you just say? The attendant is what?”
“That man’s name is Kim Hyukjin.”
“His name isn’t important!”
“Anyway, Kim Hyukjin’s perfectly fine. He suffered no repercussions whatsoever.”
Thomas was silent again.
‘The flow of the conversation is really weird.’
It was different from how they usually talked. Michelle was being strangely evasive.
‘There’s something between them.’
Thomas was able to realize from Michelle’s words that there was unmistakably some kind of deal between them. Kim Hyukjin getting hauled away on a stretcher was another type of ‘show’.
He took a deep breath. He trusted Michelle. She wouldn’t do something like this without thinking it through.
“Why? Why did you go easy on him and not Xu Xin? Why did you announce things the way you did?”
“You think I went easy on him?”
“What does that mean?”
“We’re not the ones who went easy on Kim Hyukjin.”
Thomas doubted his ears. But Michelle didn’t look like she was joking.
“What are you saying? You did go easy on Kim Hyukjin.”
“It’s Kim Hyukjin who went easy on us.”
The room was quiet for a while.
“Are you being serious?”
Silence stretched between them again. Michelle gave a light chuckle and continued. “A long time from now, you’ll come to know what I mean.”
“If you let Kim Hyukjin off and not Xu Xin, won’t that make things escalate?”
“Not at all.”
“How can you be so sure?”
“He has the Cognitive Dissonance ability. And don’t you remember how I intentionally talked for a really long time earlier?”
Michelle typically went straight to the point. She preferred being concise and not talking in circles. But this time, she was very verbose, a point Thomas had found unusual.
“I used a consumable item I got from Kim Hyukjin during the speech.”
They heard a notice.
[The ‘Herdsman of Las Vegas’ is curious.]
[The ‘Whispering Devil’ is gleeful.]
[The ‘Night of Shooting Stars’ is curious about your deal.]
Whispering Devil, Night of Shooting Stars. Both were Guardians she had never heard of before. But seeing as her Intermediate Administrator was making a huge fuss, it was highly likely they were named Guardians.
Michelle recalled Hyukjin’s face.
‘If it were Kim Hyukjin…’
What would he do in this situation? She had learned from watching him. His acting, his way of producing content, were lessons Michelle drew from now.
‘He would have waited a little here.’
Thomas asked again, “What kind of item was it?”
“Eh?” Thomas had never heard of it before. “What’s that?”
Trickery. Michelle thought back to how she had used it and how she had linked it with her own abilities.
She had learned from Kim Hyukjin.
This wasn’t an explanation for Thomas’ benefit, but for the new Guardians who had entered her channel, the Whispering Devil and the Night of Shooting Stars.
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