There was a murderous aura surrounding the Plaza, and it was coming from Jungshik’s faction. Early in the morning, he performed a funeral service for the comrades who had fallen during the battle against Tam Tam. There were over thirty of his people that had been sacrificed during the Tam Tam match.
No one had expected Jungshik to create this kind of situation since Hakchul’s faction had also received some damage, although significantly less when compared with Jungshik’s faction; Jungshik himself had led the charge, so it was only reasonable. After holding a funeral service for his men, he confronted Hakchul’s faction with his group.
“I have something to say!”
He stabbed his bloody sword in front of Hakchul and growled at the people that were surrounding him.
“Starting today, we will be ruling this Plaza.”
It was an explosive announcement. Hakchul was more than a bit surprised, but he still used all of his effort to keep it from showing on his face.
“I don’t understand what you’re saying? Why are you doing this?”
“You don’t know? It’s because you guys aren’t doing jack around here.”
Jungshik had realized that there were too many blatantly useless people in this place. And the situation hadn’t changed since the first Rank Match either. Those who fought, risked their lives, while the others simply sat back and watched, fully satisfied with just being spectators.
They couldn’t even muster up the minimum amount of courage needed to contribute, yet they always had something to say regarding the rewards that others got. And it wasn’t uncommon for them to resort to theft either.
“Drag them out.”
With Jungshik’s gesture, one of his subordinates dragged out two people whose hands were tied.
“Your people had the balls to covet my men’s stuff.”
Jungshik’s subordinate grabbed the back of their heads to reveal their faces. They had been beaten so badly that it was difficult to recognize their original appearance.
Hakchul’s face froze in shock, then grew red in anger.
“E-even still, how could you beat someone to this state before hearing them out?”
Hakchul raised his hand. Several lieutenants around him nodded their heads and snuck off to bring back a few dozen people; they surrounded Jungshik’s faction through sheer numbers, but Jungshik didn’t appear to be scared of them at all.
As though expecting such a development, he smiled widely and pulled out the bloody sword from the ground and spun it around dexterously. It spun wildly before its point aimed straight at Hakchul.
“You wanna have a go?”
The fuse had been lit. The tension grew to the point that a fight could break out at any moment. At this time, a man strode over arrogantly between Hakchul and Jungshik while whistling to himself. Several hundred pairs of eyes were aimed at him.
They first noticed his handsome appearance, tall height, and well-proportioned body, but soon they felt an unusual aura coming from him. It was as if he was the physical manifestation of arrogance itself.
“Let’s not fight. Love and peace, you know? Isn’t that right, pretty lady?”
Even under the gaze of the crowd, he didn’t wilt but rather continued to jest as he approached both of the leaders.
Sungchul watched the man’s movements from a distance. The other Preselected also took notice of the situation with great curiosity.
“Ahram? Why’s he acting like that all of a sudden?”
“That’s what I’m saying. He was all whiny about losing his staff…maybe he has finally lost his mind.”
The man walking fearlessly between Hakchul and Jungshik was none other than Ahram Park.
There were dozens of subordinates standing behind both leaders, but they couldn’t think of stopping him since he strode in so naturally and with such blatant arrogance. Ahram eventually arrived in front of both the leaders.
“Why so serious? Hm? Should humans be fighting with each other even after winning the Rank Match?”
Ahram looked at Hakchul, and then at Jungshik as he spoke. Jungshik’s cold glare pierced him like daggers. Ahram slightly opened his mouth in mock surprise, but that was all. He approached Jungshik, as though appeasing a child, and laid his hand on his shoulder.
“Woah Woah, friend. Cool it, okay?”
Jungshik’s shoulder moved slightly, and with great speed and accuracy, Ahram’s shirt collar became ripped. If his blade had come any higher, it might have taken off Ahram’s neck.
“I’m going to chop off your neck next time, so leave before I stop being nice.”
Jungshik spoke frostily, and Ahram smiled in response.
“Che, this guy can’t control his temper, can he?”
It was a dumbfounding situation. Everyone thought that Ahram was being overly brash. Jungshik was one of the strongest within the Blanche Plaza that everyone recognized. No one knew where this arrogance had come from, other than Sungchul.
‘He’s aching to show off that ill-gotten power of his.’
Ahram’s body suddenly changed. It twisted, then grew fur along his face and arms. Everyone watched this transformation in shock and horror until a monster which was slightly larger than an adult man stood before them.
Like Vampires, Werewolves were one of the racial transformations that could be obtained voluntarily. It instantly granted 30 Strength, Dexterity, and Vitality. And other than the critical weakness of the abysmal growth rate and inability to learn Magic, it was like being a wolf locked in a pen with the sheep being the recently Summoned.
“Now, let’s cool our heads a bit. Mm?”
The transformed Ahram laughed loudly as he strode closer to Jungshik, one step at a time. Jungshik quickly realized that the monster would be difficult for him to deal with, but it was still a moment too late. Ahram had already targeted him and had no plans to show him mercy.
“What? Nothing more to say? Did your temper fizzle after seeing my true form? Huh? Did that rage fix itself suddenly? Huh?”
He took another step forward with an endless stream of taunts. Jungshik’s subordinates stepped in between them with their blades drawn.
“Boss, we’ll try to slow him down.”
At that moment, Ahram took a step forward and his claws split the air, cleaving through the two humans’ flesh as easily as through tofu. Blood and viscera splattered everywhere, and the two men hit the ground as corpses.
Jungshik’s group had suddenly become smaller.
Ahram sneered as he licked his bloody claws.
“Now that I look at you, there’s a lot of pretty pictures on your body. Is that a Dragon? Huh? Why won’t you talk? Maybe you’ll feel like talking after I’ve drawn a few more pictures on you, isn’t that right?”
Ahram no longer held back his savagery, and as he revealed his strength, no one dared to step forward to stop him. Jungshik realized that he couldn’t face this opponent and felt his impending death, but suddenly Ahram came to a stop.
He began speaking to himself. He looked off into the distance and swung his hairy arms.
“No, what more reason do I need than that of wanting to kill him? I don’t know. Fuck, I said I don’t know!”
Sungchul suspected the red-headed Mage had intervened behind the scenes.
‘Jungshik is a Preselected Summoned. I don’t know who chose him, but if Dolorence had to step in, then it must be someone important.’
However, Ahram wasn’t so easily handled.
“It’s fine. I’m sure my dad, whose face I’ve never even seen, will clean up the mess after me.”
The beastly Ahram’s yellow pupils glowed with frenzy, and he swung his arms towards Jungshik. Jungshik succeeded in stopping the claws but the force of the blow still carried through, throwing him back to roll on the ground.
He glared at the Werewolf rushing over towards him as he bit his lips nervously.
His legs wouldn’t move. He must’ve hurt his legs when he landed. The legs could recover quickly, but he would be defenseless until then. He watched helplessly as the Werewolf rushed towards him when a miracle occurred. Wolves appeared on both sides of Ahram. They ran like the wind through the crowd to bite and hold onto Ahram’s leg, who was on his way to kill Jungshik.
“Fuck, what’s this?”
They were Spirit Wolves. The same wolves that Ahram had shown during the first Rank Match. The two wolves now attacked their original master.
Ahram tore apart the wolves with his claws in a frenzy, and the wolves disappeared into the air with a pitiful cry.
“Who did it?!”
He sifted through the crowd of people with frenzied eyes.
“Who the fuck was it? The fucker who used my staff! Huh?!”
Ahram’s attention had shifted away from Jungshik, so his subordinates efficiently took his immobilized body away. However, the situation hadn’t quite resolved itself. Ahram’s temper had simply transferred from Jungshik towards the rest of the Summoned.
“Which one of you fuckers was it?!”
Ahram blindly ran towards the crowd, and the horrified group scattered like leaves in their panic. Several dozen people were trampled and an unlucky few were tenderized into meat by his claws. The Plaza plunged into chaos.
In the middle of that chaos, Ahram began to breathe heavily as he slowly turned back to his original form. His transformation unraveled, only lasting for five minutes. But within those five minutes, he had changed the whole dynamic of power within the Plaza.
Jungshik, who had been rising, was now incapacitated and Hakchul had only been able to watch in horror as the Werewolf attacked his comrades. Ahram reveled in the tense atmosphere and looked around with a sneer. No one could stop him, nor could they criticize him. He had absolute power over this arena. He left with a knowing grin, aware of what he had just obtained.
At this moment, everyone fell silent as they gazed at Ahram, but unlike them, Sungchul was watching a certain woman instead. She was the one who had secretly conjured the two Spirit Wolves, and then nonchalantly hidden the staff within her cloak as she effortlessly blended in with the crowd to run away once the chaos began.
Sungchul recognized that woman’s face.
‘It’s her, without a doubt; the same one as before.’
She was the one who had been aiming for the bonus monster during the first Rank Match. He’d managed to beat her to it, but she clearly was more capable than she had let on. The woman clearly had a level of intuition and ability that couldn’t be learned in the field. Her painstaking effort and countless encounters with death were subtly hinted through her every move. He had come to suspect this only recently, but the critical timing of her discreet Summoning, along with her supernatural evasion, had confirmed his suspicion.
‘That woman…I’ve known this from the start, but she’s definitely not an ordinary newbie’.
He had never seen it directly, but he’d heard some interesting rumors regarding the Summoning Palace. There were those who were blessed by Gods or Lesser Gods with a chance to traverse back through time and restart anew at the Summoning Palace. They were known as Regressors, people who returned back in time with their memories intact.
He recalled a forgotten memory because of that woman. There was a need to observe her further, yet there was something even more important that needed to be taken care of first.
A Sky Squirrel deftly landed on his shoulder.
Sungchul petted the squirrel’s head then unraveled the pouch attached to its forearm to check its contents.
[Dolorence Winterer. Age 24. Frost Mage. An Airfruit Graduate. A hound for money and power with a rotten core, but her ability is also acknowledged as top-grade by her peers.]
“Ho. An Airfruit graduate. That’s quite impressive.”
Sungchul moved on to the next part of the letter with an amused expression.
[She ignored everything to observe her Preselected constantly, but there was a brief moment where she took her eyes off of him. That was when he was dragging an innocent woman into the forest.]
A rare smile formed as he finished reading the letter.
Note: * Ahram is talking to the woman standing beside Jungshik.