Max Talent Player
[Translator – Lei ]
[Proofreader – Ash ]
“It’s an item that can influence the mind when tricking others and concealing the truth,” explained Michelle.
“A mind effect item? Those exist?”
Michelle intentionally paused for a beat, thinking that was what Kim Hyukjin would have done.
“I had no idea either, but guess so. That’s what he gave me.”
“How strong is it? Strong enough to mentally control someone?”
“Not quite that strong. It just helps a little.” Michelle said, “You definitely saw Kim Hyukjin’s face earlier, right?”
“But do you remember what he looked like?”
Thomas instantly stiffened. He tried recalling the man’s face, but was unable to.
‘Is this… the ability Guildmaster Song Kiyeol explained to me?’
It was called Cognitive Dissonance.
‘I really can’t remember him.’
It felt like he was trying to peer through hazy white fog.
“That’s Kim Hyukjin’s power. He’s come this far while thoroughly cloaking himself. A person like that confidently stepped forward into the spotlight. It must be a reflection of his confidence in being able to pull the wool over the eyes of all the top Rankers.”
“Michelle. Do you think that, too?”
“Yeah. If I’m right, none of the Rankers remember Kim Hyukjin.”
Cognitive Dissonance. And Trickery.
“I also used [Sovereign’s Speech].”
Sovereign’s Speech was Michelle’s sovereign-exclusive skill to arouse a strange sense of trust towards the speaker in the listener. It also had a buff effect in battle, but when used outside of battle, it just had the effect of instilling trust.
All three abilities had come together to create the current situation. Michelle was certain of it.
“Not a single person who was there will remember Kim Hyukjin. We may have made an enemy of Xu Xin, but we gained an ally named Kim Hyukjin. A trade-off I think is fully worth the investment.”
Thomas nodded after a long period of thought. “We’ve turned Xu Xin into an enemy, but raised your prestige. That’s fine, for now.”
He decided to respect Michelle’s decision. He added one more thing.
“If everything you say is true… just what kind of person is this Kim Hyukjin guy you hold in such high regard?”
* * *
Translator - Lei
Proofreader - Ash
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* * *
Song Jinchul became triumphant.
“I think there’s no doubt I’m the winner of this bet, Hyung.”
“We’ll have to wait and see.”
Song Kiyeol had spent $4.5 million to buy three items. Their bet was based on return rate, so despite Xu Xin’s constant interference putting a wrench in his plans, Song Kiyeol hadn’t lost yet.
“Well, who cares about the bet? That bastard Kim Hyukjin’s a cripple now.”
Jinchul chortled with glee. He seemed to be in a very good mood.
Kiyeol was left wondering when he should set his crooked brother straight and make a decent person out of him. Kiyeol was letting his brother be at Kim Hyukjin’s behest, but thinking about the youngest member of the Song family made the coming days feel dark.
“Hyung. I can go out to play, right?”
“Yeah. Take the guards.”
Jinchul went out in excitement, only to pop back in shortly afterwards.
“Right, Hyung. Kim Hyukjin. Now that he’s all powerless, I’m gonna stomp him, ‘kay?”
Kiyeol didn’t respond. His pitiful little brother seemed to really think Kim Hyukjin had been declawed. How naive.
‘Hyukjin told me to let him be, so…’
He didn’t bother correcting Jinchul’s misunderstanding.
“I’m going for real this time! I’ll be back!”
Left alone in the room, Song Kiyeol thought back to the contents of the precognitive notes that had disappeared.
–The true seer shall be bound.
Was the true seer truly Kim Hyukjin? Looking back, that seemed right. His knowledge of the future was more accurate than any other oracle. He handled every situation like he knew exactly what would happen and Played as if there was nothing he didn’t know.
–In his bindings, shall he lose all power.
He was indeed bound. Handcuffs had been put over his wrists. And the ‘lose all power’ part was correct as well.
‘It was announced… that he lost all his power.’
Michelle had announced that, and the Rankers believed it. It was likely none of those people even knew the name ‘Kim Hyukjin’. They would probably just remember that ‘an unfortunate incident occured to the Taeguk Shield attendant’.
–The ignorant masses shall be tricked by the devil’s voice.
The ignorant masses probably referred to the Players who were there. Then what was the ‘devil’s voice’? It gave a chilling impression.
‘The devil’s voice.’
If the devil here was Kim Hyukjin, then was the true seer a devil? Song Kiyeol, who didn’t know about the Whispering Devil, couldn’t reach the correct conclusion.
‘I have no idea.’
In any case, the incident was a definite confirmation of Ham Sohyun’s precognitive ability. So what could the last note, the one that had appeared after all the other letters had disappeared, possibly mean?
–The Sovereign of Incantations will head skyward.
Song Kiyeol’s night of pensive thinking stretched on. He suddenly became curious.
‘I wonder what kind of items Guildmaster Kim sto—I mean, secured?’
* * *
Kim Hyukjin lounged in the plane he was getting “chased out” in. For the sake of giving Michelle face, he chose to take a troublesome plane ride instead of going back by teleport gate.
In exchange, he rode First Class. It was extremely comfortable. His first ever First Class experience made him feel like a bed had been moved onto the plane.
A flight attendant approached him and asked with a friendly smile, “Which wine would you like, sir?”
Hyukjin didn’t answer. No, he couldn’t answer.
“No wine, thank you.”
“Very well. If there is anything you require, please tell us at any time. We will serve you with the greatest care.”
He didn’t have the time to chat with the flight attendant—a new notice had come in.
[The growth requirements of the special ability Cognitive Dissonance have been met.]
He used Cognitive Dissonance in combination with the tool called Michelle to trick countless Rankers. Their cognitive abilities were skewed, and the distortion was perpetuated in countless members of the public via articles produced by the media. That was the requirement the ability needed in order to grow.
[The special ability Cognitive Dissonance will be assimilated into the innate ability Eye of Perception.]
[The innate ability Eye of Perception is enhanced by absorbing the Cognitive Dissonance ability.]
[The current proficiency of Eye of Perception is ‘2’.]
[An additional trait has been added to Eye of Perception.]
Distinguish between Awakened and Unawakened
Read Status Windows
Resistance towards illusory attacks or apparition magic
Activation of Cognitive Dissonance at will and Cognitive Dissonance Dispel
He could freely wield Cognitive Dissonance while using Eye of Perception. In addition—
‘Cognitive Dissonance Dispel?’
If someone else used Cognitive Dissonance, he could now see through it.
‘Makes sense. I can’t be the only person who can use Cognitive Dissonance.’
He believed a time would come for this ability to shine. Hyukjin just didn’t know that time would be directly after he got off the plane.
At the arrivals gate, he was surprised to find his two sisters, Kim Ahyoung and Kim Sunhwa, waiting for him.
The ability he had gained inside the plane, Cognitive Dissonance Dispel, automatically activated.
[Confirming the presence of the Cognitive Dissonance authority.]
[Eye of Perception dispels the Cognitive Dissonance authority.]
The person who had Cognitive Dissonance active, and had always had it active without a single soul realizing… was none other than his enthusiastically waving little sister Sunhwa.
* * *
In front of the arrivals gate, Kim Hyukjin sensed the Cognitive Dissonance surrounding Kim Sunhwa and pretended to not notice it.
“How’d you know I was coming?” he asked.
“Guildmaster Song contacted us, saying you would be coming by plane.”
Sunhwa was one thing. He turned and looked at the person standing next to her. Ahyoung’s face reddened.
“I only came because Sunhwa kept begging me to.”
“But I didn’t say anything.”
“Anyway, it’s not that I came to greet you or anything.”
“Got it, but thanks for coming over anyway.”
Sunhwa beamed. She tugged the hem of Hyukjin’s clothes.
“Let’s go. Mr. Driver is waiting outside.”
Hyukjin left the airport with his sisters. Waiting outside was the chauffeur Song Kiyeol had assigned him.
“Noona and Sunhwa, get in the back.”
Sunhwa and Ahyoung got into the rear of the 4-seater luxury sedan, and Hyukjin got into the passenger seat.
“Setting off now,” said the driver.
The car with three family members in it began heading to the DMC Riverview Xi. Hyukjin glanced stealthily at Sunhwa via the rearview mirror.
Since when had Sunhwa’s Cognitive Dissonance been active?
What perception was being distorted?
‘The fact that my Eye of Perception and Observer’s Eye didn’t catch it at all means it’s just that high in grade.’
It was only due to Eye of Perception being strengthened by its fusion with Cognitive Dissonance that he was able to see it. Before that, he hadn’t noticed at all.
‘It’s not her own ability.’
Sunhwa wasn’t doing it.
That left one option.
That moment, a shiver ran down Hyukjin’s spine.
‘Come to think of it… who is Sunhwa’s Streamer?’
Everyone in Giantgod had Intermediate Administrators they had signed exclusive contracts with. But Sunhwa’s Intermediate Administrator hadn’t shown themselves even once.
‘None of us found that odd.’
Not a single one of them had ever asked who Sunhwa’s Intermediate Administrator was.
‘What’s Sunhwa’s class again?’
She was a genius tank. That was what everyone in Giantgod thought. But what exactly was her class’ actual name?
‘I don’t know what Sunhwa’s class is.’
He had checked Sunhwa multiple times with Eye of Perception. But he couldn’t remember her class name. And that was because the phenomenon of ‘cognitive distortion’ was in effect.
“I always get sleepy in the car,” Sunhwa yawned, slumping over and using Ahyoung’s knee as a pillow. Ahyoung stared out the window as if she didn’t care about Sunhwa.
Sunhwa quickly fell asleep. After gently brushing away the hair that had fallen over Sunhwa’s face, Ahyoung returned to staring out the window.
“I’m sleepy too,” Hyukjin said, closing his eyes. He wasn’t actually sleepy.
‘What could it be?’
He thought hard, and before he knew it, the car reached the underground parking lot.
The three Kims got out of the car. The now-awake Sunhwa energetically set off at a dash. She made a beeline for the door connected to their house, saying she wanted to be the one to punch in the code.
“Me! Me! Me! I wanna put in the password!”
She punched in the numbers, squinting with concentration. Hyukjin stared right at Sunhwa’s back.
“Darn! Wrong password. I messed up.”
Sunhwa put in the password again. As Hyukjin watched her back, he opened his mouth.
“But you know…”
Sunhwa looked back. Hyukjin stared at her.
“Who are you?”
Hyukjin had once asked Sunhwa the same question.
–Who are you?
At that question, Sunhwa’s body had twisted unnaturally, producing a strange cry. Hyukjin remembered that time again.
–I’ll ask again. Who are you?
When he asked again, Sunhwa had only shrieked, incapable of responding.
‘I thought it was just a side effect of descent.’
At that time, Hyukjin had drawn on Jackson’s theory.
–There are times when temporary symptoms similar to possession show up due to a Guardian’s descent. It has only been observed a few times on a global scale, and is said to disappear naturally on its own with time.
Which was why he thought it was a temporary side effect of descent.
It didn’t seem like that was just a side effect.
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