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    “Huh.”

    This time, it was Sa-yoon who let out a hollow laugh. He had tried to hold it back, but anger was surging from within.

    When he kept calling him pretty and overlooking his actions, he kept doing things that crossed the line.

    Saving his life, treating his wounds, taking him to gates, providing support. He had devoted many things in a short period of time to nurture him, yet the words he received in return were that he found him annoying. And that was without even a simple word of gratitude. Even if he had said he could be worth his salt, this was too much.

    Her fists trembled, not knowing how to handle this capricious and picky fellow. The chilling resentment filling Sa-yoon’s insides made his forget how splendid Geon-joo’s battle against the Falsirocus had been for a beginner.

    They say a disobedient person listens after a beating.

    There was an absolute and invariable rule he had discovered through years of guild management experience: no matter how nasty a person was, if you beat them, they would eventually submit. It wasn’t for nothing that they said a rod was medicine, and if they still didn’t listen after a beating, it was only because the violence was insufficient. There were rarely any people who wouldn’t listen to a beating itself. He thought Geon-joo wouldn’t be an exception either, as he was pondering.

    “…Still.”

    “……?”

    “I was grateful that you saved me.”

    If I don’t say this much, I’d be trash-like.

    It was a tone that suggested his pride was hurt, but he would do what was right. Standing in front of the table and turning to Sa-yoon, he finished speaking and looked straight ahead again.

    “What are you doing? Aren’t you going to check the rewards together?”

    He still seemed more irritable than usual, but his tone was more subdued than when he had fired off complaints like a machine gun. Sa-yoon stood up and observed Geon-joo’s appearance. The tips of his white, round ears were tinged with a faint pink.

    Quest window.

    He summoned it and checked the relationship column.

    The words that had been written as ‘Current Relationship: Hostility and Wariness’ flickered for a moment and changed to something completely new.

    ‘Current Relationship: Shallow Trust and Indebtedness / Some Fondness and Faint Wariness’

    It was the most positive change since meeting Geon-joo.

    “Huh.”

    This time, Sa-yoon let out a hollow laugh with a different meaning than before. When he didn’t come, Geon-joo turned his head slightly and waited for him to come, making him laugh in exasperation.

    Seriously, what the heck.

    Just a moment ago, he thought there was no other guy as impudent as him and wondered if he had lost all fear because he had only pampered him at home. But now, he looked quite pretty again.

    He’s a good boy when you treat him well.

    If he backed down here, it was no different than sticking a “certified pushover” label on his forehead. However, wasn’t the other person Geon-joo? Sa-yoon, who had briefly assessed which was stronger between his earlier resentment and the now reversed relationship, soon moved his feet.

    If he were to receive a new title, the probability of it being “legendary pushover” was high.

    So what if he’s a bit irksome?

    They say that when you first start parenting, everyone feels wronged and sad, but in the end, they give in because their own kid looks pretty.

    “To sum it up, you’re saying you sulked because it was embarrassing, right?”

    “Why are you putting it like that?”

    When he spoke while walking to Geon-joo’s side, he retorted sharply. Sa-yoon responded with “Yes, yes,” consoling the sulky twenty-two-year-old as if soothing a child. He had finally grasped what kind of personality he had.

    The slickness disguised as composure was mainly a defense mechanism that popped out in crisis situations, and his actual personality seemed closer to this side. It felt like a kid who reacted right away when poked.

    If Geon-joo had heard, he would have jumped up from his seat and reprimanded him, asking how he had lived with such a lack of discernment. But Sa-yoon was in a state filled with confidence. Geon-joo was a little fox cub.

    “I think you’re having strange thoughts right now, but that’s not it, so discard them.”

    With uncannily sharp senses, he spoke while making eye contact. Sa-yoon, shrugging his shoulders, pointed to the reward box that had been neglected on the table for several minutes.

    “Just check the rewards.”

    “Should I check it?”

    “Then you think I’ll check it in a gate I brought you to nurture you? It’ll all be yours anyway, so you open it.”

    Why would he check it and then hand it over to him?

    How bothersome.

    When he readily conceded the box opening, Geon-joo, who openly displayed his thoughts of it being strange, placed his long, straight fingers on the box.

    “If you give everything away like that, what’s left for you?”

    “You’re left for me.”

    “Ah, yes….”

    “Don’t just let it slide. You know you have to pay it all back when you become an S-grade, pretty boy.”

    “I don’t think I ever said I would pay you back. Was there such a clause in our contract?”

    “If even a magpie repays kindness, what would a person be if they don’t repay it? A beast?”

    “Let’s go with that.”

    This cutie.

    When he sent a chilling gaze at his confident declaration of running away, Geon-joo deliberately pretended not to see it and opened the box. A golden light flashed. Soon, three items appeared as clear rewards.

    “Something good came out.”

    “Something good?”

    “It’s gold and an accessory. B-grade or higher accessory items are rare.”

    The light that appeared when opening a reward box was one of four colors: white, gold, gray, and black.

    If the item was of a higher rank than the gate grade, it was gold; if it was of the same grade, it was gray; if it was lower, it was black. Finally, if it was SS-grade or higher, it was white. Since it had just been a golden light, it meant the items were B-grade or higher.

    Geon-joo seemed to be appraising the two rings and one earring that came out as rewards, then handed the rings to Sa-yoon.

    “Why?”

    “It says the appraisal grade is low, so I can’t see everything. Can you take a look?”

    “You can’t see it?”

    Geon-joo was a B-grade, and the Land of Distrust was a C-grade gate, so Sa-yoon tilted his head, wondering if an unidentifiable grade could come out. He used his appraisal skill on the ring.

    [Falsilo’s Fate Pairing (Growth-type A)]

    The wedding ring of Falsilo, who had created the Falsirocus through research. (Unique) (Bound)

    – When wearing the pairing with the person you share it with, combat ability increases by 30%.

    – Mana recovery speed increases by 10%.

    – Agility increases by 10%.

    – When the HP of the person you share the pairing with falls below 30%, the pair is notified.

    – Unopened (Opens at A+ rank)

    – Unopened (Opens at S rank)

    “Growth-type A?”

    And it’s unique?

    He had appraised it lightly but ended up rubbing his eyes and looking again. An item labeled as unique literally meant it was a one-of-a-kind item that couldn’t be found anywhere in the world, no matter which gate you searched.

    Could this be a reward that comes out of a C-grade gate?

    This was the best reward one could receive from the Land of Distrust. Dumbfounded, wondering if this was that so-called beginner’s luck or something, Geon-joo peeked from the side.

    “Judging from your expression, it seems like something good dropped. How is it?”

    “It’s decent enough that I would have sold it if it wasn’t bound.”

    “You’re going to sell it?”

    “No, I can’t sell it since it’s bound anyway. And it’s perfect for you right now.”

    Growth-type items typically grew along with the bound owner. If Geon-joo, a B-grade, rose to S-grade, the pairing’s grade would also likely become S-grade. Considering the other skills, it was an artifact tailored for the current Geon-joo. Sa-yoon read out the item description that had appeared in front of him and handed the pairing. Geon-joo, who reached out and received the ring, expressed his confusion.

    “Why are you only giving me one?”

    “Then who are you going to use it with?”

    “……?”

    “Pretty boy, think about it. Who said they would raise you to S-grade?”

    “You did, Guild Leader.”

    “Then who will you stick with the most?”

    “…I guess it would be you, Guild Leader.”

    “Then who should you share this ring with?”

    As if giving an eye-level education, he kindly explained, and Geon-joo, who had pursed his lips as if they were smeared with honey, slightly furrowed his brow. There was no way Sa-yoon would miss that small wrinkle.

    “What’s wrong? You don’t like it?”

    “I’m not particularly inclined to.”

    “Why?”

    “I don’t think it’s very good for you to know when my HP falls below 30 percent.”

    “Why?”

    “Are you asking because you don’t know?”

    Then I’m asking because I don’t know. Would I ask if I knew?

    Sa-yoon, who had interrogated him with his eyes, put the pairing on his middle finger as if his dissatisfaction wasn’t worth considering from the beginning, and put the remaining one on his finger. While Geon-joo was dazed by the sudden occurrence, the system diligently sent a notification window.

    <Pair setting complete. Owner of Falsilo’s Fate Pairing (A), Kwon Sa-yoon. Owner of Falsilo’s Fate Pairing (B), Han Geon-joo. The pair will be maintained until the artifact is destroyed.>

    “…You know you’re really arbitrary, right?”

    Geon-joo, who had become paired helplessly, spoke as if dumbfounded, but Sa-yoon wasn’t particularly affected. It was a good thing. Thanks to this, he could pull his pretty boy back from the brink of death if he ever became endangered.

    “Think of it as gaining an extra lifeline.”

    “Doesn’t it feel like it’s been reduced?”

    “Why are you being cheeky since earlier?”

    Only after he warned him, drooping the corners of his eyes, did Geon-joo sigh and accept the fact that they had become a pair. Sa-yoon then performed an additional appraisal on the earring and handed it to him. If he was going to accompany him, it was best to equip it right away since it raised cold resistance.

    “Will I really use this?”

    “Then would I use a B-grade item at this rank?”

    “I’ll take it then.”

    “From now on, it’s good to collect cold resistance items whenever you see them if we’re going to stick together. Even Jongsik probably has his items matched with cold resistance from head to toe.”

    I heard he spent quite a bit of money to match them like that. When he mentioned it as a reference, using the person he had been with the most until meeting Geon-joo, Geon-joo, who had stopped midway while equipping the earring, turned to Sa-yoon.

    “Are you two close?”

    “Jongsik?”

    “Yes. You talk about him often and stick with him a lot.”

    Rather than being close, it was closer to a kind of slave concept. However, to say that outright, he thought he should maintain his image to some extent in front of his pretty boy, who had only been in the Night Rats Guild for two days.

    “We’ve known each other for a long time.”

    “Hmm.”

    “Why?”

    “I just asked.”

    Geon-joo, who finished speaking with a slight shrug of his shoulders, had finished equipping all the items. Sa-yoon stared blankly at the man next to him, noticing Jongsik’s name coming up relatively often from Geon-joo’s mouth. Geon-joo, who received a gaze mixed with question and suspicion, asked why he was acting like that. Sa-yoon boldly blurted out the thought that had momentarily filled his head.

    “Do you happen to like Jongsik?”

    “What did you say?”

    Geon-joo replied, his face turning pale.

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