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    [Geon-joo’s POV]

    They say there’s no cure for a crazy person.

    I wondered to what extent one had to be twisted for such words to be uttered, but seeing Sa-yoon, I understood. He was truly a lunatic with no cure.

    Does it make sense for him to have that expression after throwing someone off a cliff?

    The nonchalant smile and the fingers swaying left and right looked so despicable; it was a talent in itself.

    What the hell was going on in his head?

    It was impossible to predict his next move. With the difference in knowledge and power we possessed, it was hard to deny that I had been constantly swayed by him since meeting Sa-yoon.

    This incident was no exception.

    It was absurd enough to be suddenly dragged to a C-grade gate without any consideration for my opinion, but after saying we would rest before going to the next gate, he placed my sleeping self in front of an S-grade gate. Although I realized it was my fault for blindly believing his words, I couldn’t help but feel wronged.

    Who would have known that someone would drag me to an S-grade gate of all places in this manner?

    Moreover, who would have imagined that I would end up being thrown off a cliff while riding in a car after entering that gate?

    They say lions raise their cubs by dropping them off cliffs, but that’s up to the lions, and I was a human. However, in Sa-yoon’s mind, it seemed that whether it was a lion or a human, as long as they were strong, it was all the same.

    Judging by how he grabbed my collar and immediately threw me off without a moment’s hesitation as soon as the situation was set, as if he had been waiting for this moment.

    In fact, lions are known for their strong maternal instincts, and they don’t actually drop their cubs off cliffs, but Sa-yoon was worse than a beast.

    No wonder such rumors circulate.

    Among the baseless rumors about the leader of Bam-jwi that spread in the world, the most famous one was that he was a mentally deranged person.

    Considering how well-known they had become as a terrorist organization, I thought it could be possible, but I had secretly worried about why they would spread such groundless rumors if it weren’t true.

    However, the Sa-yoon I actually met was not any less, but rather more than the rumors.

    He was a man who would even take being called a lunatic as a compliment and laugh.

    That crazy bastard.

    Even as I was cursing Sa-yoon with both my eyes and mouth, unable to suppress my resentment, my body was rapidly falling. At this rate, it would be a fatal fall.

    I had finally found the path of a hunter in my mundane and tedious life, and I couldn’t die so miserably like this.

    Thinking I should at least try something, I grabbed the cliff, but it was insufficient. No matter how much I tried to cling to the cliff and support myself, my body, which had gained momentum, was helplessly pulled downward. My nails, which I had dug into the wall in an attempt to cling on, were humiliatingly scraped off.

    My reddened fingertips felt burning hot.

    When I managed to grasp a protruding rock with my bleeding hands, it would briefly stop the fall for a very short time, but it couldn’t even last for a few seconds before the rock crumbled and fell off.

    No matter how many times I reached out, it was the same. It was a series of futile efforts.

    “Fuck, I’m really…!”

    Eventually, Geon-joo, who had been reaching upward while cursing, shifted his gaze.

    If going up didn’t work, he had to find a way down.

    He had initially felt discouraged, thinking it would be a sheer drop, but unexpectedly, he could see some vegetation in the distance. It seemed like the saying “The world may be harsh, but there’s no law that says you have to die” originated from situations like this.

    His mind raced.

    Rather than clinging to the cliff, which was pointless, jumping into the vegetation would at least increase his chances of survival. After a brief moment of hesitation, alternating his gaze between the top and bottom of the cliff, Geon-joo made up his mind and lifted his foot.

    To reduce the impact of the fall, he had to land in a spot with as much dense vegetation as possible.

    Once he made the decision, his actions were swift. Gritting his teeth, Geon-joo kicked the cliff.

    Tat!

    As he resisted the force pulling him down with all his might and bounced his body off, the trajectory of his body, which had been falling vertically, changed.

    Green filled his vision.

    Confirming that they were getting closer and closer, Geon-joo tightly closed his eyes.

    Kwa-deu-deuk!

    “Ugh!”

    The branches, unable to withstand the impact of Geon-joo’s fall, snapped roughly with thud-thud sounds. In the process, fragments of the broken trees and twigs scratched his skin, and Geon-joo, swallowing a groan, covered his face with both arms. He wanted to avoid getting his eyes poked at least.

    Every time his flesh was poked with a puk sound, a curse directed at Sa-yoon piled up in his mind.

    The words Sa-yoon had mockingly uttered before the fall rang in his ears, making his blood boil.

    Come back alive and punch him in the face at least once?

    As if he could even survive.

    When he said he would make me an S-grade, was he referring to my soul rather than my body?

    His eyelashes trembled with absurdity and a sense of betrayal. It seemed that from now on, if the world was harsh, he would have to curse Sa-yoon instead of cursing the world.

    How did I end up getting involved with that crazy bastard?

    Somehow, I had a terribly bad feeling from our very first encounter.

    From the moment I first saw Sa-yoon at the Awakened Registration Center, not at the torture villa.

    ***

    When you observe people and assess various aspects of them for 22 years, even if it’s your first time meeting someone, you develop the ability to sense certain qualities they possess to some extent. To put it simply, it was like a highly developed intuition.

    That intuition, which operates most keenly when facing someone for the first time, allows you to guess whether the other person is dangerous, foolish, or selfish at first glance.

    When Geon-joo first met Sa-yoon, what he felt was ominousness.

    The words of senior hunters, saying that newly awakened hunters had to live at the center for at least a month after awakening, were not an exaggeration. Rookie hunters had a lot of things to do, from obtaining a hunter’s license to tests, stat reports, and grade assessments, so they had to visit the center frequently, whether they wanted to or not.

    That day was the day he had visited the center to report his final completion of the beginner’s gate and to receive a grade reassessment.

    He had visited the center a few times before, so it now felt somewhat like his front yard, but for some reason, it felt unusually unfamiliar that day.

    The entrance was more chaotic than usual, and the atmosphere among the people inside the center was disorderly. Soon, Geon-joo would understand the reason.

    Two suspicious-looking individuals were standing at the entrance of the center.

    One of them was wearing a neat suit, but his large physique and rugged face drew attention, while the other was wearing a simple hoodie and jeans but had a peculiar aura that attracted gazes.

    Isn’t that what people often call a celebrity aura?

    Sunglasses, a black mask, and even a hat.

    Even with his entire face covered, an indescribable subtle energy emanated from him. Perhaps that was why most of the people at the entrance were anxious when looking at the man in the black suit, and then showed curiosity when looking at the man beside him, but Geon-joo couldn’t join that procession.

    It was because he could feel an eerie energy from behind the sunglasses that covered the man’s eyes.

    He seemed like a man not to be messed with.

    It could be discerned at once without having to look twice or thrice. The intuition he had developed from observing people for 22 years was fiercely warning him.

    Whoever he was, getting involved with that person would be dangerous.

    It wasn’t like he had never encountered someone with an ominous or uncomfortable aura before, but it was the first time he had met someone this spine-chilling.

    That’s why the thought of not getting involved with him was even stronger. Truly dangerous people were not commonly seen in everyday life.

    If he said he wasn’t curious about the bare face of the person who exuded a celebrity vibe even with everything covered, it would be a lie, but he knew that unnecessary curiosity could be poisonous.

    That was the reason he quickly turned his head even after confirming the man who seemed to be searching for something, looking around here and there.

    So he tried to just pass by as if he hadn’t seen anything, but…

    “Kyaaaak!”

    Suddenly, a scream as sharp as a horror movie rang out, and people began to murmur. When he looked in the direction of the sound, he saw the man from earlier staggering and bleeding. To be precise, blood was gushing out from inside his mask.

    His body froze for a moment at the unsettling sight. For a fleeting moment, he thought he had made eye contact with the man who was attending to the collapsed person, calling out “Hyung, hyung,” but he dismissed it as his imagination when the man took care of the other and left the center.

    Until then, he had thought the incident at the center would be a minor happening.

    If only the man in the black hat hadn’t followed him when he returned to his studio after taking care of his business.

    It was the first time in his 22 years of life that he had experienced stalking.

    At first, he thought he might have misunderstood due to his own sensitivity, but seeing the person continuously following him from bustling streets to quiet alleys, he was convinced. Regardless of the identity of the man following him, this was definitely stalking.

    Although he had a bad feeling, he felt slightly relieved upon confirming that the sun had not yet set. No matter how turbulent the world was, no terrible incidents would occur in broad daylight.

    He would realize how naive that thought was when he entered a secluded alley near his home with no people around.

    Peo-eok!

    Before entering the gloomy alley, he had looked around just in case, confirming that no presence could be felt, but as soon as he set foot inside the alley, he felt a dull impact.

    Judging by how the other person had approached him without him noticing until right before the attack, the assailant was definitely not an ordinary person. He must have been an awakener of a higher grade than himself.

    Realizing that, he tried to turn his head to at least identify the face of the one who had attacked him, but he felt another impact.

    His body staggered, and his vision shook. The thought that occupied his mind just before losing consciousness was singular.

    ‘I submitted a leave of absence a few days ago…’

    Being a student living alone, even if he disappeared, there would be no one to question it for a while after he had also applied for a leave of absence.

    Unless there was a gathering, he wasn’t the type to frequently exchange contact with people around him.

    It wasn’t like he didn’t receive invitations to blind dates or to go drinking, but he rarely accepted them, and if he ignored and left them on read more than twice, people would also start to be cautious of him and gradually reduce the frequency of contact.

    As a result, even if he were to be taken away by unidentified individuals like this, the fact that he had gone missing wouldn’t be discovered for at least a week.

    Damn it, the conditions were perfect for kidnapping and killing a person.

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