Sungjin grinned widely as he greeted,
Hiroaki ran towards Sungjin.
“Have you been doing well? I occasionally heard stories about you! The strongest troll-killing hunter, Master Hunter K!”
It seemed that Hiroaki was as lively as he was in the past.
“Ah… Is that so?”
Sungjin gave Hiroaki a once-over and noted that he was covered from head to toe in ornate gear.
‘As expected… He was able to adapt well since he’s rather talented.’
Hiroaki examined Sungjin’s equipment as well.
“Ah! I see that you’re still using that sword!”
Hiroaki exclaimed as he noticed Sungjin’s Moon Specter; he had been in Sungjin’s team back when Sungjin had obtained it in Greysoul Cemetery.
“This is how the rumors went: An incredibly powerful swordsman that wielded a ghost’s sword. Whenever I heard that, I would say, ‘That person is Master Hunter Kei! He’s a hundred times stronger than the other hunters! And I’m that man’s apprentice!’”
‘… So… This guy was the one behind the rumors…’
It seemed that Hiroaki had a part in helping the rumors spread. At that moment, Franz came to them and spoke up,
“Kei. Are the two of you actually in a master-apprentice relationship? Really?”
Sungjin denied it in his mind but did not actually say so because Hiroaki had exclaimed loudly,
“Not that… A Korean and a Japanese? Did you know each other back in reality? Aren’t you from different countries? Isn’t it fundamentally impossible?”
Hiroaki faltered slightly.
“That’s not the case… We became master and apprentice when we participated in the raid together.”
Franz wrinkled his forehead as he said,
“Ehh… Then that means you only met once. To call someone you’ve only seen for a day master before going separate ways… If it’s like that, then I’m more of an apprentice than you. I was in a raid with him… Fought together with him… And even sparred with Kei in the morning.”
‘Spar? Ah… He’s talking about that time when I used Time Reversal…’
In truth, it was closer to an experiment than an actual spar, but Sungjin once again kept his mouth closed. Hiroaki spoke up in surprise,
“A spar? Really?”
Sungjin looked at Franz and nodded slightly.
“I’m saying that’s how it was. I probably learned more than you did.”
“How can this be! Sensei! Me too! Please spar with me! I’ve become stronger after going through raids these past few days!”
Hiroaki unsheathed his sword as if asking Sungjin to spar with him on the spot.
‘He’s still as energetic as ever…’
Sungjin glanced at the three hunters in the rear. They were staring blankly at the scene of Hiroaki and Franz crowding around Sungjin.
“Wait, before we think about sparring or whatever… Did you guys finish the raid?”
“Ah, we just killed the normal boss and were deciding whether we wanted to look for the hidden boss or not.”
“Really? Then… Well, let’s do the Baptism first.”
“Yeah. I can’t spar with you right now… But if you accept the baptism you’ll be able to meet me later. If there’s time, then we can spar.”
“Really? Then, of course!”
Since Hiroaki admired Sungjin and obeyed him, Sungjin was able to recruit Hiroaki easily. He took out a Holy Water of Baptism from his vest and poured it on Hiroaki.
Hiroaki’s cube made an announcement.
[You were ‘Chosen’ by someone. Title granted.]
Sungjin smiled when he heard that noise. With this, the future that he had seen yesterday had become reality.
“All together! One, two!”
Mahadas and Franz helped lift the table together at Baltren’s signal.
The three men lifted it up and connected it to another table.
“Whew. This should be enough, right?”
Having moved the two tables next to each other, the hunters each brought up a chair and seated themselves around it. Sungjin sat at the head of the table as he looked about. Now, there were a total of eight Chosen Ones. Their number had grown to the point that they had to bring together two tables at Ninety Nine Nights in order to be able to sit together.
Sungjin clapped his hands together once, and the hunters all focused their attention on him. He said to them,
“You’ve all worked hard today as well. Before we begin today’s dinner…”
Sungjin tapered off. The hunters’ focus naturally gravitated towards their newly-arrived member.
“Indeed. All of you have probably noticed, but today we have a new member. Everyone, give him a round of applause.”
Sounds of applause filled Ninety Nine Nights once Sungjin had finished speaking. When the clapping began to die down, Hiroaki stood up and said,
“Thank you for the warm reception.”
Sungjin felt a strong sense of deja vu. It was exactly the same as what he had seen when he used the blue gem ‘Ios’ last night in the bathroom. With two swords equipped to the waist, Hiroaki politely bowed from his waist as he said,
‘I am truly moved to be reunited with my master, as well as find teammates on top of that.’
Hiroaki’s greeting was exactly the same as he had seen before.
Clap Clap Clap~
The hunters’ applause began anew. Sungjin clapped along with them as he thought to himself, ‘This part hasn’t changed either’. Sungjin moved towards the back and entered the bathroom once again. He took out the star-shaped accessory from his vest and rubbed it a little.
‘It’s correct to the point of eeriness. This is really… a tool that shows you the future…’
Sungjin held up the accessory as he used its Active Skill once again.
The star shone brightly and led Sungjin to the future once more. Sungjin first began to count the number of ‘Chosen Ones’.
‘One, two, three… Seven, and including me, eight.’
The total was still eight. This meant that tomorrow’s raid would proceed safely as well. Tomorrow’s dinnertime was as harmonious as it could be. Everyone had cheerful expressions as they enjoyed the meal.
‘… Looks like there’s nothing to worry about. Though it seems like there’s no new recruit.’
Sungjin continued to watch the future for a while before returning to the bathroom of the present time. He briefly gazed at the blue gem.
‘This item… is literally out of this world…’
It was not a ‘Mythological’ tier item just for show. The countless ‘Legendary’ and ‘Unique Legendary’ items he had equipped on him were all those that were rather valuable, but this item was something that surpassed their level altogether.
‘With this, wouldn’t you be able to… tell if something would succeed or fail in reality… and then change things as necessary?’
He felt that he would be able to proceed with the raids with ease of mind knowing that the next twenty four hours would play out safely.
‘… It should be enough if I come at this time every day and look at the future. At least, until the raids end.’
Sungjin put away the gem after concluding his thoughts. Afterwards, he turned on the faucet and washed his hands. Though he did not actually do anything while in the bathroom, he did it to pass the time since time did not flow when he gazed into the future. As he washed his hands, Sungjin thought,
‘If things go on like this… It’ll be smooth sailing. These raids will end…’
However, he suddenly recalled what the Darker than Black shop owner had told him.
‘You now have everything you need. You already had the determination, and now you have obtained the power. It’s time for the story to end.’
‘Did he… know that I would end up like this…’
It was unclear if he meant ‘the end of the raids’ when he referred to the ‘ending’ of the story, but as things were, it seemed that Sungjin would be able to clear the raids easily. He was strong to the point that he could not grow stronger, and he had seven similarly strong allies. By filling in the remaining two vacancies, he would be able to complete the scene that he desired: him and the strongest allies, ending the raids. However, despite that, there was something that nagged at his mind. It was the future that Edward had seen in Chapter 20. Sungjin took out ‘Ios – The Revelation of the Stars’ once again and looked at it.
‘Back then… Edward’s expression instantly changed after seeing this… Just what was it that he saw… In Chapter 21…’
He did not know what had happened in the future that Edward had seen, but it was obvious that it was not something good. If this was not the case, then there was no way Edward would change his mind so suddenly.
‘Did he do that because he saw the party being wiped out… And after seeing that, he decided to wipe out the party himself… In order to send me, who is stronger than him, into the past…’
In any case, he could not relax his vigilance yet since, in the end, Sungjin had not been able to go to Chapter 21 either.
Sungjin looked at the mirror that hung on the bathroom wall and slapped himself once.
‘Let’s do it well, until the very end.’
At that moment, as he was looking at the reflection of his face, the earring that was hanging from his ear came into sight.
The ‘Eye of Jeremiah’ was an item that could read the inner thoughts of a person. When he looked at it, he was suddenly reminded of something else that the Darker than Black shop owner had told him.
‘…There was something that I had received without payment. I must give something in exchange if I receive something… When you have to choose one thing, choose that. The truth is always precious.’
Sungjin briefly rubbed the earring between his fingers.
‘When I have to choose one thing… Choose this…’
Sungjin could not understand just what those words were supposed to mean. However, according to Sungjin’s experiences with the man, the shop owner was not someone to carelessly say something without reason.
‘In other dimensions, they call me a dealer of information. I will answer the questions that you ask, but I will receive an appropriate amount in return.’
‘I’m not a dealer of information for no reason. If you pay the price for the questions asked, I’ll give you the correct answers.’
His main occupation was an information merchant, and since he had given Sungjin this information in exchange for a price, the information should have equivalent worth.
Sungjin equipped the earring as he thought,
‘I don’t know when it will be, but when I need to ‘choose one thing’, I’ll choose this.’
Just before Sungjin finally exited the door, he thought about the shop owner,
‘In any case… Just what is he?’
However, the person that could answer the question was already gone. Furthermore, it was obvious that even if asked, he would answer something along the lines of,
‘I’ll tell you if you give me a hundred million Black Coins.’
‘Is he a god? Or is he a devil?’
However, no matter how he thought about it, Sungjin did not think that he would be able to figure out the answer. He exited the bathroom. Outside, the hunters were boisterously enjoying the meal. Sungjin interjected as he asked,
“Just what were you guys talking about so excitedly?”
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