Max Talent Player
[Translator – Lei ]
[Proofreader – Ash ]
“Players can’t activate it?” asked Seohye.
Still leaning against Hyukjin’s back, Seohye thought for a moment. Just like how Hyukjin was connected to Seohye, so too was Seohye to Hyukjin. She understood his feelings, to some extent.
“Looks like you have some kind of plan.”
Seohye didn’t ask what that was. She also knew that this conversation wasn’t just between the two of them, but that it was progressing with the Guardians in mind. Seohye didn’t ask, because she instinctively knew this was the right time for a cliffhanger.
Seohye closed her mouth for a bit.
‘But really, what is he planning?’
She had no idea. Other than wanting to know what he was thinking, a different kind of greed came to life within her.
‘I suppose this is me wanting to have a conversation with just the two of us.’
At first, she was happy and blissful with just being able to walk and talk again, but now, she wanted more. But Seohye knew. As long as Intermediate Administrators existed, and there was a system called ‘streaming’, they could never have a private conversation.
Hyukjin heard a notice.
[Channel #19207 has closed.]
That was Senia’s channel.
He got no response. Senia was gone. Normally when she stopped streaming, she left after saying so, but not today.
‘Did something urgent come up?’
It wasn’t strange for an Intermediate Administrator to stream one Player and then go to another, hopping from place to place. He didn’t think much of it.
“Sorry,” said Hyukjin. “For not being able to give you much attention.”
“No, I fully understand.”
“I know how you feel.”
Seohye was truly lonely. It couldn’t be helped. That was just how the situation was.
“I promise you once again. I’ll make it so you can get your body back.”
It felt like he had a lot of things to do. He had to protect Sunhwa and help Seohye.
“I’m more grateful for your feelings than for those words,” Seohye responded.
She could feel his sincerity through their mental connection. Just then, Hyukjin heard someone screech in his head.
(Husband! What do you think you’re doing?!)
It was Isabel. Why did she keep waking up? Why was a sealed sword so sleepless?
(Think I can sleep with my husband cozying up to another woman? What’s with this chick? Isn’t she that Guardian Tower? Why’s she leaning on my husband’s back?!)
Hyukjin had no idea how this happened, either. He felt bad for Seohye, so he just let her lean on his back. He knew that Seohye didn’t think of him as a man, but as someone she could rely on. He was the one and only person in this world she could talk to, the only person who could listen to her.
‘Isabel. You know, don’t you? The way I see Seohye.’
Hyukjin’s link with Isabel was stronger and more deeply rooted than his link with Seohye. Isabel could even read most of his thoughts.
(Yeah, but still. This is a little…)
‘I’m the only person in her world right now.’
(Still… My husband’s back belongs to me.)
Isabel’s voice grew quiet.
‘You’re well aware of what kind of feelings I have towards her, and what feelings she has towards me. Do you think Seohye sees me as a man right now?’
That was absolutely untrue. Hyukjin knew that very well.
(But you’re a married man. You’re being overly nice to her.)
‘That’s because I’m the only person in the world who can be nice to her.’
Hyukjin was now much better at handling Isabel. Maybe because Isabel had lived as a sword for a long time, she had a simplistic way of thinking. She wasn’t all that verbally adept.
‘I’d like my bride to understand me.’ He wasn’t asking for unconditional understanding. ‘I’ll do well. I’ll trust you. You can feel all my emotions anyway. Plus, you should be well aware that I don’t see Ahn Seohye as a woman, and that she doesn’t see me as a man. It’s just that I want to give her the minimum amount of comfort a person can give another person.’
Isabel’s blade quivered. To be honest, Hyukjin almost wondered why he had to coax a sword like this, but he barely managed to squash the thought before it could surface. It would be troublesome if his inner thoughts were aired out to this fearsome sword.
(Your back belongs to me. You know that, right?)
‘I know. Of course it belongs to you.’
(Fine then. Her situation’s pretty sad, so I’ll make an exception.)
‘I knew you’d say that.’
(I-I’m a generous bride, after all.)
A crack appeared on Isabel’s blade, caused by her insistence on staying awake.
‘Go back to sleep. I understand why you’re worried, but I won’t give you cause for worry. How upset do you think I’ll be if you damage yourself like this?’
That was sincere. There would be no greater heartbreak than breaking a transcendent item.
(Got it. This little crack will be healed right away with auto restoration, so don’t worry too much.)
Isabel’s ruffled feathers were clearly soothed.
(I’ll go back to sleep. Later, you have to go eat tonkatsu or chicken or whatever it is with me, too.)
Isabel returned to her slumber. Meanwhile, Seohye was mumbling something. Hyukjin couldn’t catch what she said.
“What did you say? Sorry, I didn’t hear you.”
“It was nothing.”
Seohye got up, then turned and looked at the sitting Hyukjin.
“Remember the incantation I did earlier?”
“You’re happy you can breathe, happy you can feel, happy to be alive. That one?”
“Yes. The next part is the most important…”
“It was ‘I want to eat tonkatsu’, wasn’t it?”
“That’s right.” Seohye smiled brightly. “I want to eat tonkatsu.”
“Once you’ve regained your body, let’s go eat tonkatsu. With Sunhwa.”
“Ah. I also want to see Sunhwa.”
“I’ll tell Sunhwa to go see you.”
They wouldn’t be able to communicate, but Seohye would still be able to see Sunhwa.
“You don’t need to. She visited me often.”
“I wanted to say a lot of things and chat with her, but it was a shame that I couldn’t.” Seohye walked forward. “I want to go on a walk. I’ll go look around.”
There was nothing dangerous here anyway. Even if there was, the Red Demon could take care of herself. It had been a while since she had two feet to walk on. Hyukjin could feel how precious being able to walk around was through his connection with her.
After Seohye set off on her walk, Salvatore took the chance he’d been waiting for and approached Hyukjin.
“May I ask you a quick question?”
“I would like to ask about incantations.”
Hyukjin knew that was coming. He grinned. “I would have been disappointed if you hadn’t asked.”
“...I kept hesitating because I thought it might offend you.”
“But the sovereign Salvatore must ask, of course.”
Ah. That was a slip of the tongue. Hyukjin was just too used to the name Salvatore that he accidentally said it.
“...You’ve figured out even that?”
“I’m truly astonished. Is this Miss Ham Sohyun’s ability, your info-gathering acumen, or the power of the information merchant Pietro?”
“That’s a secret.”
What was so notable about ‘Salvatore’? In the future, it was a household name, but Hyukjin couldn’t say that. It wasn’t that he was trying to hide it, just that he couldn’t tell the truth.
“I would like to learn the incantation you recited. Would that be possible?”
It wasn’t a difficult request. Anyone who didn’t have the talent or the ‘will’ to back up the incantation wouldn’t get any further than just speaking words. Incantations were fully regulated by talent, and Salvatore was a sovereign Player with enough talent to go around.
‘Even if I don’t teach him, he’ll realize it on his own one day.’
This damned world of Playing was literally ‘winners win’. Salvatore was a winner anyway.
‘Since he’ll figure it out anyway, it’s better if I teach it to him.’
It would put Salvatore in his debt, and Hyukjin would get some credit for the deed.
“We’ve got plenty of time, so I’ll go through it slowly. But it won’t be for free.”
* * *
Translator - Lei
Proofreader - Ash
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* * *
Ten days passed.
Thanks to Hyukjin (though publicly, it was Chiellini) acting as the mediator, there wasn’t much discord among the Players. In ten days, the gate would be fully cleared, and the rewards would be distributed to the survivors. Everyone took it easy and stocked up on stamina.
“Huh? Something’s spawning over here!”
That quiet peace was broken when something began to spawn on the ground—a stone that gave off green smoke. More stones appeared around the field.
[Green Poison Stone]
A stone bearing a powerful poison. If it isn’t broken in a set period of time, the poison will start seeping into the air. If left intact, the poison will become stronger and stronger with time.
*Cannot be destroyed with long-ranged attacks.
Salvatore stepped forward.
“I will distribute some hammers.”
They were, of course, tools Hyukjin had prepared in advance with Sunhwa.
“I had the help of Miss Ham Sohyun from Taeguk Shield.”
The archers took the hammers.
“We have to be diligent about breaking them. The poison will become intense.”
With that, everything Hyukjin prepared was revealed.
“Good, I was bored anyway.”
“Jeez, this thing’s super hard!”
“Hurry and break it. The poison is coming out faster than expected.”
The archers started running around with the hammers, and another ten days passed. All the Players who had gone into the Dewinged Angel Statue gate cleared it and came out.
Some news found their way to the media.
–Ham Sohyun, the Precognitive Dreamer of Taeguk Shield. Who is she?
–The sovereign Salvatore shows Italy’s potential.
Ham Sohyun’s name was raised to the heavens, and Chiellini started using the name ‘Salvatore’ outright. Thanks to the Dewinged Angel Statue gate, Salvatore’s fame rose to the point of rivaling Michelle’s.
–Taeguk Shield has an ultimate weapon other than their Precognitive Dreamer.
Rumors of that nature began to spread as well, but the archers who went into the Dewinged Angel Statue gate didn’t give any precise details about the mysterious person. Everyone just unanimously agreed that there was an ultimate weapon in Taeguk Shield and didn’t extrapolate.
* * *
In a VVIP room in Sungshin’s hospital, Ham Sohyun gave a faint laugh as she watched the TV from her bed. On TV, the media was covering ‘Taeguk Shield’s Precognitive Dreamer’ in-depth.
“Even though I didn’t do anything…”
The woman peeling mandarin oranges next to her snickered. “That must be Mr. Hyukjin’s doing, right?”
“I think so, too.”
“I heard you want to see him too, Sohyun?”
“Yeah. I’m curious about what kind of person he is. You’ve seen him, haven’t you, Sooji?”
“Yep.” The Poison Witch scowled. “But I’m serious, I think that guy must either be gay or a eunuch.”
“I’m openly trying to seduce him, but he’s not falling for me.”
“You’re openly seducing him? You, Cheon Sooji? But he’s not falling for you?” Sohyun let out another small laugh.
“Don’t ridicule me. I’m serious here. That man’s a real riddle. How do you think I can win him over? Don’t you have some kind of bibbity-bobbity-boo predictions you can make for me? I want to date him.”
Sohyun shook her head. “Give up.”
“What makes you say that all of a sudden?”
“I’m really so, so curious about that man. That’s why I asked Guildmaster Song if I could meet him.”
“I know. What about that?”
“I’m so, so curious. And also so, so scared.”
Sooji’s face turned serious. She set down the mandarin she’d been eating.
“Behind that man is something terrifying I can’t identify.”
“Something terrifying you can’t identify?”
“Yeah. It’s sharp and cold, but also hot and sturdy. It shines radiantly, yet is infinitely dark.”
Sooji started munching on her mandarin again. “Sounds like utter hogwash.”
“That’s how precognitive dreaming always is, I suppose. I can feel a massive power that is both a blessing and a curse. I don’t know how to explain it, either.”
“Does that have anything to do with me wanting to go out with him?”
“It does.” Ham Sohyun stared at her friend. “Don’t get too close to that man.”
“You’ll die, without fail.”
A knock on the door interrupted their conversation.
“May I come in?”
It was Guildmaster Song Kiyeol. Because Sohyun was unable to muster a loud voice, Sooji responded in her friend’s stead.
Song Kiyeol came inside. Next to him was Kim Hyukjin, and beside him was yet another person.
As soon as Ham Sohyun saw them, she knew.
‘That person is Kim Hyukjin.’
And the person standing next to him was Italy’s info merchant, Pietro. She recognized them at a single glance.
She realized something else. Upon seeing Kim Hyukjin in person, she saw something. A yellow precognitive note formed in the air.
Ham Sohyun, who couldn’t normally move her body well, straightened at once. A red brush appeared in her hand, and her eyes turned white.
As soon as she saw Kim Hyukjin, Ham Sohyun began to write.
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