Max Talent Player
[Translator – Lei ]
[Proofreader – Ash ]
“He… is descending.”
The angel statue’s body hardened, returning to the stone statue it originally was. The gems on its forehead were very faintly shining, but that too looked as though it would soon fade.
“Through the agreement and support of many Guardians, a new scenario will commence.”
“How much has the difficulty increased?”
“I cannot tell you that. It is up to you, the Player, to determine.”
If Hyukjin had to guess…
‘I have a feeling it’s been ramped up a ton.’
The situation felt similar to the Fire Giants. When the Fire Giants first spawned, they were supposed to have killed around 30,000 people. In the same way, half of the archers here were supposed to have lost their lives. That was how the original scenario was supposed to play out.
The Sky Gate continued to vibrate and expand. Hyukjin felt an incredible presence on the other side.
‘Does the System wish to kill as many people as was originally planned this time as well?’
While receiving support from the Guardians, no less?
The still-expanding gate occasionally emitted yellow sparks. The whole process was taking quite a while.
‘What kind of foe is it, to require such fanfare?’
The longer an enemy took to appear, the higher the chance there was that its strength merited the dramatic entrance.
‘It’ll definitely be stronger than the angels.’
Normally, the strength of an angel was represented by the number of its wings.
‘Surely it won’t be a six-winged angel.’
A six-winged angel had appeared just one time in the history he knew, in an incident that was called the Paris Catastrophe. When the angel with six wings appeared in Paris, France, 10,000 people were instantly reduced to ashes and an additional 20,000 were melted into nothingness by light.
‘If a six-winged angel shows up, we’re all dead.’
But that probably wouldn’t be the case.
‘The System wants to get rid of around half of us.’
Using that as a measure, he guessed it would be stronger than a two-winged angel but weaker than a sixer. There was a high chance it would be something that had never appeared in the past (or did appear, but was not told to the public)—a four-winged angel.
He stared at Senia.
“Yes, what is it?”
Senia was as expressionless as ever, but Hyukjin could feel it.
‘She wants to say something.’
There was something she was itching to hear from him. Her lips were trembling ever so slightly.
‘The monster not showing up yet means they’re giving us time.’
She wasn’t saying it, but it looked like she was tamping down the desire to shout, ‘Hurry and spit it out, right now!’
Salvatore watched in silence. He believed it was better to focus on Kim Hyukjin’s Playing right now than to direct the other Players. There was much for him to learn as a sovereign, and as a Player.
“The System suddenly increased the difficulty, even winning the support of the Guardians to do so.”
But the boss wasn’t spawning right away.
“If the System simply wanted to slaughter us, it wouldn’t give us this much time.”
Senia didn’t respond, but her wings began to faintly tremble. She blinked a little faster than usual. Hyukjin almost imagined he could hear her say, ‘That’s right. Hurry. Hurry and raise an objection.’
“In other words, the System needs to kill us, but it also has some kind of absolute reason it needs to protect us.”
That was why it was giving them time, time to raise an objection based on that absolute. Playing wasn’t fair. It favored the one who knew the most. The ignorant were sitting ducks in this cutthroat world.
Just like in the verbal spar he’d had with Yoohyun’s Streamer, Neptune.
“Artificially increasing the difficulty like this will have skewed the balance.”
That was a word the System liked. Balance. Impartiality.
“Which means, there needs to be another factor to restore the balance.”
That was the reason why the creature on the other side of that Sky Gate hadn’t appeared yet. Senia’s expression was flat, but she spoke far faster than usual.
“What do you think that factor is?”
“If that side is strengthened, shouldn’t this side be strengthened as well?”
“I fully understand what you are saying, Player Kim Hyukjin. May I interpret your words as a formal objection? With my authority as an Intermediate Administrator, I will raise an objection regarding the issue of the System’s impartiality. Do I have your consent?”
Senia was speaking so fast that Hyukjin almost thought she was rapping.
“I give my consent.”
The entirety of the field turned gray. A field-wide notice rang out.
[By request of the Intermediate Administrator Senia, scenario progress has been briefly halted.]
[If the Intermediate Administrator Senia’s request is not appropriate, the System will seek punitive compensation from the Intermediate Administrator Senia.]
It was a little different from a Pause. The Players were unaffected, and only the field was frozen in time.
* * *
Translator - Lei
Proofreader - Ash
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* * *
Pietro realized something else.
‘That beautiful female Intermediate Administrator is Hyukjin’s contracted Administrator. Her name is Senia.’
Pietro turned to his contracted Administrator, a pixie named Bellbell.
“What kind of request did Miss Senia make?”
“She complained that the System’s proceedings weren’t fair. Haa. That pretty angel must be wrong in the head.”
“Even if she succeeds, you guys’ll only be given a slight boost anyway. And it interrupted the flow. The Guardians don’t like stuff like this. Plus, if she fails, she’ll lose her Intermediate Administrator rights. Worst case, she could even be killed.”
“She could… be killed?”
Pietro racked his brain. Why? Why was an Intermediate Administrator taking such a risky stand? The reason wasn’t hard to puzzle out.
‘It’s because Senia considers Kim Hyukjin a source of content important enough to risk her life on.’
Pietro glanced at Bellbell, the Streamer who was sighing as she flitted around near his shoulder.
‘If it were me in that situation…’
Would Bellbell have raised an objection for his sake? The answer was ‘absolutely not’.
‘Because there is surely someone out there who can replace me.’
He thought of himself as a fairly outstanding info merchant, but he knew there were definitely at least a few others who could replace him. After all, the world was filled with remarkable people.
‘But Kim Hyukjin…’
He was different. Pietro clenched his fists.
‘I have to become like him.’
An irreplaceable Player. That was what he had to become in order to Play like Kim Hyukjin. He had to make it so his Intermediate Administrator would speak for him at the risk of their authority or even their life. He was once again made to re-evaluate what kind of content he should make and how, as well as what kind of scenes he should show the Guardians.
A little time passed.
[The Intermediate Administrator Senia’s objection has been deemed appropriate.]
[Seeking measures to adjust the balance as per the Intermediate Administrator Senia’s request.]
[The opinion of the Intermediate Administrator who raised the objection, Senia, can be partially accepted.]
“The difficulty was raised through the Guardians,” said Hyukjin. “In exchange, we should be allowed to receive favors from the Guardians.”
Senia nodded. A notice sounded in Hyukjin’s ear.
[The ‘Nameless Observer’ wants to observe you.]
It wasn’t the usual ‘The Nameless Observer is observing you’, but ‘The Nameless Observer wants to observe you’. In other words, they were saying they would help him so that they could continue to observe him. Hyukjin understood.
[The ‘Barrier of Blue Light’ wants to protect you.]
The protection-loving Barrier of Blue Light took the plate.
[The ‘Lady of the Scales’ deeply sympathizes with the ‘value of impartiality’.]
As well as the Lady of Scales.
[The ‘True Master of the Heavenly Demonic Mountain’ takes pleasure in your ‘fortitude to challenge the System’.]
[The ‘Conductor of Sound’ is awed by the ‘virtue of a sovereign’.]
Even the True Master of the Heavenly Demonic Mountain and the Conductor of Sound stepped forward, making a total of five Guardians who had sent messages to him. Senia’s face visibly brightened. Her expression remained unchanged, but Hyukjin was now capable of reading her emotions.
‘I don’t know what she’s saying right now, but…’
It was probably something like adjusting the balance in their favor through great support from the Guardians again. The System would get Coins from the Guardians on the opposing side as well as Coins from the Guardians on the supporting side, so it had nothing to lose.
At long last, Senia faced the Players, her body shimmering with golden light.
“By the support of many Guardians, I hereby proclaim a change in the settings. On grounds of the System’s impartiality, a temporary allowance will be granted to all Players here.”
She looked like an angel that had truly descended from heaven. The kind of angel people imagined, not the monstrous imitations that had emerged from the Sky Gate.
Even Vela, who had seen Senia a few times before, went slack-jawed.
She was simply too beautiful and magical. Everyone went into a daze upon seeing the angel exuding a sacred golden aura as she proclaimed the change in the settings.
Everyone except for one person. Hyukjin wasn’t all that moved.
‘Is she that beautiful?’
Mentally, he recognized that she was beautiful, but the thought didn’t reach his heart. He did sort of think it might be because he was technically married to Isabel.
(As expected of my husband.)
She always managed to wake up exactly at times like this.
(I knew my husband wouldn’t look at other women.)
(How very trustworthy. I picked my husband well.)
(That’s right. No matter how pretty she is, she’s not prettier than me, is she? Right? Ohoho… ho… ho… yawn.)
And then, she fell right back asleep. It seemed as though Hyukjin’s thoughts had spurred her into forcibly waking ahead of time.
The System notices continued.
[The ‘Dewinged Angel Statue’ reopens its eyes.]
[The ‘Dewinged Angel Statue’ has been strengthened.]
The angel statue woke up again.
[The Players will be granted a temporary privilege.]
[Each Player may use an ability restricted by the System.]
[However, only one ability can be used.]
[This privilege is effective only in the ‘Dewinged Angel Statue’ gate.]
Color returned to the field. The sky was almost red in color. The wind blew, scattering grains of sand. A powerful presence loomed from the other side of the Sky Gate.
Hyukjin could tell.
If his prediction was right, it would be an angel with four wings. It should be weaker than one with six.
‘We can do it.’
He had created this situation. If it was a four-winged angel, it was worth a try.
Now wasn’t the time to be fussing about the details. He couldn’t afford to hide his knowledge here.
“Opera of Castle.”
Chiellini’s face stiffened. How did Hyukjin know about his class exclusive skill? What’s more, it wasn’t an ability he couldn’t even use yet because of the level restriction.
‘How he knows isn’t important.’
They had to get through this first. That was the important thing right now. He didn’t pry. With just three words, Chiellini understood what he had to do.
Chiellini was certain that Kim Hyukjin was once again planning something big.
Hyukjin turned to someone else.
“Vela. You use Shrine Dancer.”
“Eh? How do you know about that?”
Chiellini whacked Vela on the head. “Shut up and do as you’re told.”
“Garshdarnit. Grr, I’ll let you off just this once. Prepare to get beaten black and blue outside.”
Hyukjin looked up at the sky. Something was starting to slowly emerge from the gate.
[The boss monster ‘Four-Winged Angel Statue’ has appeared.]
It was as Hyukjin predicted. An angel with a massive mouth and four wings spawned. Its official name was ‘Four-Winged Angel Statue’, and the level was a red question mark.
‘We can’t defeat it by normal means, but…’
Hyukjin finished the groundwork to kill that boss.
“We’re killing that thing.”
He was saying the words to Chiellini and Vela, but also to the Guardians watching from above. No matter the situation, he never forgot his acting.
Chiellini immediately echoed the words, loudly enough for the others to hear.
“We will be killing that thing.”
Hyukjin’s command was relayed to all the archers through Chiellini’s lips.
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