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    The previous night, when Sa-yoon told Geon-joo that he would make him run gates until he threw up, it wasn’t an empty promise. He had truly arranged the schedule so that they could enter a gate immediately after lunch, and Jongsik had found a gate with a certain level of difficulty.

    C-rank gate ‘The Grounds of Distrust’.

    As it belonged to the upper tier even among C-rank gates, it was perfect for gauging Geon-joo’s skills.

    Geon-joo, who had just graduated from being a novice, would have only experienced gates with a maximum rank of E. When Jongsik and the guild members from the information management team expressed concern about suddenly taking such a person to a C-rank gate, Sa-yoon, who had already compromised once in his previous conversation with Jongsik, ignored them and pushed forward.

    If he couldn’t handle that much, the idea of raising him to S-rank should be thrown out.

    Of course, it would be tough. It would be difficult and grueling, but if he grew step by step like others, it would be hard to stand out even with talent. It was natural for plants that grew in barren soil to be stronger.

    That’s why he had insisted on an S-rank gate.

    Among the Night Rats guild members, there were a few who caught Sa-yoon’s eye and conquered C-rank gates right after being novices, and they all grew to become executive-level members within three years.

    So Geon-joo, who possessed overwhelming talent compared to them, would be able to achieve even more growth if taken to an S-rank gate. Sa-yoon had evidence to support that conviction.

    Because Sa-yoon himself was the one who conquered an S-rank gate as his first gate after being a novice.

    Even the top awakeners from all over the world didn’t show overwhelming prominence from the beginning, but only Sa-yoon came out of an S-rank gate, rolling and tumbling, with a greatly increased rank, making a name for himself. Having started ahead of others, it went without saying that he also grew dozens of steps ahead afterward.

    Sa-yoon took a certain pride in that fact.

    “I like the thrill of becoming stronger by going through more hardships than others, but the brats shy away from it.”

    Although he had died a few times, the achievement gained after the suffering was satisfying for Sa-yoon, who had worked hard with the belief that after hardship comes happiness. He clicked his tongue, recalling the guild members who valued their lives. The saying ‘high risk, high return’ didn’t exist for nothing.

    Grumbling, Sa-yoon went inside and checked the bed. Geon-joo was still sleeping innocently like a boy who knew nothing of the world. Seeing his expressionless face, perhaps because his unique relaxed smile and aura were absent, he looked much younger than when he was awake. It seemed that the boyish charm from his teenage years hadn’t faded despite his age.

    Glancing at the clock, Sa-yoon pondered ways to wake Geon-joo up. Not wanting to shout from the morning to wake up the sleeping guy, Sa-yoon let the chill of frost flow into the room.

    The frigid, almost cruel energy he had obtained from a gate of extreme cold slowly spread from Sa-yoon’s body, lowering the room’s temperature.

    1 degree.

    2 degrees.

    3 degrees.

    The rapidly dispersing cold air plummeted the temperature. It was cold enough for even Sa-yoon, who rarely felt the cold, to find it a bit chilly.

    Crack.

    Before long, a sound like cracking began to come from where Sa-yoon was standing. The floor froze bit by bit. By then, Geon-joo’s lips had turned blue.

    “…Ugh.”

    Groaning as if in pain, he pulled the blanket higher with his hand that was still asleep. Seeing him instinctively curl up his body, Sa-yoon increased the intensity of the skill.

    It shouldn’t be to the point of freezing his heart.

    Not knowing how far Geon-joo’s B-rank body could endure, Sa-yoon hoped he would wake up before an accident occurred.

    Fortunately, as if Geon-joo had read Sa-yoon’s inner thoughts, he opened his eyes with a groan not long after. Perhaps he had a strong survival instinct.

    “What, why is it so co…”

    Ld. Unable to finish his sentence, Geon-joo discovered Sa-yoon standing in front of his bed and made a startled expression. His voice, which was lower than yesterday’s due to just waking up, was pleasant to hear.

    Sa-yoon waved his hand casually, meeting the surprised eyes.

    “Morning, pretty boy.”

    “…?”

    “Did you sleep well?”

    At the kind question, Geon-joo looked around the room. He seemed to feel a sense of disconnection between the situation and Sa-yoon’s tone, furrowing his brows.

    “…What’s going on here?”

    “A situation where I put in some effort to wake you up.”

    “…Can’t you wake me up normally?”

    “Wasn’t it normal?”

    “This?”

    Anyone can see it looks like you came to assassinate me.

    Speaking in a reproachful tone, Geon-joo lowered his feet from the bed to the frozen room. As the cold climbed up his bare feet, he shivered.

    “It’s freezing to death…”

    A voice mixed with dissatisfaction was heard. Suddenly feeling uneasy, Sa-yoon quickly summoned the quest window to check the relationship column.

    ‘Current Relationship: Curiosity and Wariness’

    Fuck, seriously.

    The wariness that he had barely shaken off had returned. It even pushed out the spot for interest, which had a relatively good evaluation, and took its place.

    Why is he so fickle?

    If one holds one emotion, it should persistently push forward, but why does it keep changing here and there, causing a fuss? Did he inflict any other harm? He just made the sleeping environment a bit cold. It was a much more convenient and dignified method than shouting and shaking him awake, telling him to get up.

    The resentful Sa-yoon opened his mouth to make an excuse but closed it again. If he asked why Geon-joo suddenly became wary, it would only arouse more suspicion.

    He’s annoyingly fussy.

    To put it bluntly, he was the most difficult person to please among all the people Sa-yoon had seen so far. It was already challenging because he had never tried to cater to someone’s preferences, but not even being able to grasp his personality was no different from making wild guesses. He might as well wear a blindfold.

    “I wasn’t trying to kill you, pretty boy.”

    “I know. If you were, you would have already done it. Did you come to threaten me or something?”

    “No.”

    “Then?”

    “I’m taking you to a gate.”

    “What?”

    “What do you mean ‘what’? I clearly told you yesterday that you’d be entering a gate.”

    “…Ah.”

    Geon-joo, who had been lost in thought for a moment, seemed to recall something and let out a small exclamation. Somehow, it sounded closer to a sigh than an exclamation.

    “Were we really going? Even at this early hour?”

    “The sun is high in the sky, what’s early about it?”

    “I just woke up.”

    The man who shamelessly retorted got up from the bed. Sa-yoon, who had taken over the remaining bed as if it were his own, sent Geon-joo to the bathroom. When he told him to wash up and come out, Geon-joo suddenly turned to look at Sa-yoon as if he had realized something.

    “Come to think of it, I don’t have any luggage.”

    “Don’t worry, our guys brought everything in the morning. Anyway, you live alone, so there’s no one to worry about at home, right?”

    Glancing at the luggage presumed to have been brought by the guild members while he was out, Geon-joo, who followed Sa-yoon’s gaze, grimaced.

    “You investigated my personal information and house in the meantime?”

    “That’s the virtue of an information guild.”

    When he answered with curved eyes, the wariness in Geon-joo’s eyes deepened. He looked at Sa-yoon with eyes that seemed to have something to say, then shook his head once and unpacked the luggage the guild members had moved.

    After rummaging through the luggage a few times, Geon-joo took some clothes and went into the bathroom. Sa-yoon lay down, rubbing his head against the fluffy pillow, and stared at the ceiling.

    After lying down for about 10 minutes, he got bored and looked around the room, but the room where Geon-joo had stayed for only a day was no different from yesterday. With a bored expression, he summoned the status window. The blue window that he had checked once before unfolded endlessly again.

    ‘The Resister (Inactive)’

    His gaze was fixed on that part for a long time. Sa-yoon, who had been motionless, summoned the quest window after a while.

    [Quest – The Second Step Towards Activation]

    [Sub Quest – Abundant Gate Owner]

    [Sub Quest – Bloody Achievements]

    [Daily Quest – Evil Deeds as a Habit]

    [Weekly Quest – Noble Interrogation]

    [Weekly Quest…]

    .

    .

    .

    [Proof – The Hundred and Eightieth Step for the True Evil of Humanity]

    Among the quest list that didn’t end even after scrolling down six times, there was one with a particularly clear and shining border.

    Proof.

    When he first received a quest related to the true evil of humanity, it was listed as a test, but after completing all ten tests, the category changed to proof.

    Sa-yoon opened that quest window, which he had forcibly refrained from opening for a week, after taking a deep breath.

    +++

    [Proof – The Hundred and Eightieth Step for the True Evil of Humanity]

    ‘Kill a high-ranking awakener to lower the probability of saving Earth.’

    Condition: Check the World Awakeners Association rankings and kill an awakener within the top 100

    Reward: 1,000 Karma

    Failure: Rank down S → A+

    Time Remaining: 108 days 18 hours

    +++

    Sa-yoon still clearly remembered the message the system sent when that order first arrived.

    <Remember what the true evil of humanity must do. (b ᵔ▽ᵔ)b>

    The system message that first appeared a week ago was definitely sarcastically mocking him for neglecting other matters while searching for a trait holder. Then, it blatantly set a rank-down as the quest failure risk. It was the first time a rank-down had been set as a risk.

    That was the reason why Sa-yoon hadn’t opened this quest again for the past week.

    Because that message seemed to vividly prove that he was still being swayed by the system even after 10 years had passed.

    He didn’t open it because it was unpleasant and hurt his pride to become aware of it himself. How did he raise his rank, yet it was arbitrarily lowering it?

    According to the information he had gathered, when a rank-down occurred, not only would the stats decrease by one grade, but the two main skills he used would also be downgraded.

    In Sa-yoon’s case, it was highly likely that Frost and Murder Play would be downgraded. If things went wrong, he might have to change his battle style that he had honed over the years. However, Sa-yoon speculated that the system would issue a new quest before he could find a new method.

    It would certainly order him to re-achieve S-rank within a certain time frame, mentioning the true evil of humanity. It would probably set a condition like returning to the point when the rank-down started if he failed.

    That was the system’s way.

    “It’s sickening…”

    Reflecting on his situation, his head ached. Just a moment ago, he had been quite cheerful, having a conversation with the feisty pretty boy, but in a short time, Sa-yoon, soaked in fatigue, stared at the closed bathroom door with narrowed eyes.

    “The Resister…”

    To escape this life, he needed to obtain that as soon as possible. For that, Geon-joo had to grow quickly first, so Sa-yoon picked up the pillow that had been under his head and threw it towards the bathroom.

    It was his way of urging him to come out quickly since there was no time.

    But was it because he had just thought of the system? Or was the force excessive? Despite it being a fluffy pillow, the sound of it hitting the door resounded like a thunderclap. Even Sa-yoon was startled.

    The sound of water coming from inside the bathroom stopped. After a moment, the door opened, and Geon-joo poked his head out with a startled face, wrapped in a towel.

    “……”

    Sa-yoon remained silent, and Geon-joo looked around. He checked the area in front of the door and spotted the fallen pillow.

    “…Did you throw this, Guild Leader?”

    His voice was filled with confusion rather than suspicion. Instead of answering, Sa-yoon talked about how clear the sky was today. Geon-joo, who had been alternately looking at the pillow and Sa-yoon, soon had his expression crumple.

    “Don’t tell me you threw this to make me come out quickly?”

    “Lightly, I just threw it for fun.”

    “What kind of playing makes a sound like the door is breaking?”

    It was a difficult statement to make excuses for. When he muttered that the spring breeze was nice while looking out the window again, Geon-joo, who had brushed back his wet hair, frowned.

    “It’s not like you have anger management issues…”

    “Your words are a bit sharp?”

    He had become ill-mannered after knowing each other for only a few days. It seemed that sharing a drink with Geon-joo had also tilted his manners. Mumbling that he should have tightened the discipline at the villa, Geon-joo sighed and closed the door he had opened. From inside, a murmur of “Is he really crazy?” leaked out as if he wanted Sa-yoon to hear it.

    “I can hear everything, pretty boy!”

    When he raised his voice, it became quiet inside the bathroom. To be precise, that’s what he thought, but not long after, a very small voice could be heard again, muttering, “Is he really a madman?”

    Sa-yoon, who could have raised his voice again or thrown a pillow, did nothing after hearing those words.

    For Sa-yoon, who had been pretending to be completely normal by doing a 360-degree turn, it was a statement he couldn’t really deny.

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