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    The conversation wasn’t getting through, so Geon-joo snatched the potion that Sa-yoon had been chanting about being so expensive and moved to the table where the reward box was placed.

    If it had been someone else, and if he hadn’t experienced the Unknown incident, he might have responded leisurely and calmly as usual.

    However, given the situation and the person he was dealing with, it didn’t work out that way.

    It wasn’t that he had blurted out those words in anger; Sa-yoon truly had a talent for pissing people off. To the point where even Geon-joo, who was skilled at controlling his emotions, got excited.

    As he walked away in anger, he heard the sound of the man sighing behind him. His fingertips twitched at the breath that felt complicated. The conscience that had been crawling on the floor slowly raised its head.

    Still, going like this was… not right.

    Given time to curb his excitement, his thoughts expanded.

    Even if it had become his, the original owner of the potion was Sa-yoon, and if he hadn’t saved him, Geon-joo might have died. Thinking that it would be hypocritical to just get angry and leave, he took a deep breath after pondering.

    Yeah, at least I should do it.

    Since Sa-yoon seemed to be an even more conscienceless lunatic than him, what else could he do but at least keep up appearances?

    Enduring the discomfort, he said thanks for saving him anyway. Not wanting to prolong the embarrassing and awkward atmosphere, he immediately added if they should check the rewards, and Sa-yoon laughed.

    It was clearly a hollow laugh to anyone, but perhaps because he was good-looking, even his annoying laugh was quite pretty.

    Was he born with that face because of his personality? As if to say, don’t hit him even if you’re angry, just look at his face?

    Lost in silly thoughts, the man approached him. Having learned from the beginner’s gate, Geon-joo tried to share the rewards, but Sa-yoon showed a magnanimous attitude, telling him to take it all, asking why he was sharing it again. It seemed that C-rank gate rewards weren’t enough to tempt an S-rank.

    When he said he would give all the rewards, the favorability that had crawled on the floor rose again.

    ‘Something good came out.’

    ‘Something good?’

    ‘It’s gold and an accessory. B-rank or higher accessory items are rare.’

    It was the first time he had conquered a proper gate since the beginner’s gate. It was worth skipping D-rank and going straight to C. When he heard that something good had come out, he hid his expectations and entrusted the appraisal to Sa-yoon, and he saw Sa-yoon’s surprised reaction as he appraised it with a puzzled face.

    At other times, he maintained a perfect poker face, but when money and items were at stake, his expression readily changed. The fact that he easily got excited and surprised proved that he was quite greedy when it came to good things.

    Judging from his expression, it seemed that a pretty good item had popped out, even if he didn’t know what it was, so he listened to the explanation and it was indeed a high grade. He had said that accessories above B-rank were rare, but it was A-rank.

    It seemed like he had good luck from the start, so he tried to receive it cheerfully, but only one of the two rings that should have been there rose onto his palm.

    ‘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-rank?’

    ‘You did, Guild Master.’

    ‘Then who will you be sticking with the most?’

    ‘…I guess it would be you, Guild Master.’

    ‘Then who should share this ring with?’

    It was clear what answer he wanted. Hearing it, it made sense, so he tried to nod, but then a suspicion arose that Sa-yoon might just be coveting the accessory. Since he had just confirmed that Sa-yoon was quite greedy, it was a reasonable suspicion to some extent.

    Moreover, he didn’t like that it would alert him when his HP fell below half.

    Judging by his personality, it was obvious that he would tease him, asking what bastard had beaten him up like this.

    Geon-joo wasn’t pleased at all, but the man, completely ignoring his opinion, suddenly wore the ring and put it on him too. He was dumbfounded by the audacity of confidently wearing it on his middle finger while putting it on Geon-joo’s ring finger.

    Why the ring finger?

    It seemed like the question would pop out of his mouth at any moment. Wondering if it had some special meaning, he scanned Sa-yoon’s expression, but it didn’t seem to contain any particular intention. Realizing it was a futile suspicion, he received the earrings as well. When he heard that only good rewards had come out, one after another, despite it being a C-rank gate, he felt awkward about monopolizing all the rewards.

    Out of courtesy, he asked if Sa-yoon was really giving him everything, and Sa-yoon retorted, asking if he would use B-rank items at his rank. If not, he should just say no; anyway, he was someone who had a knack for speaking in an annoying way.

    ‘If we’re going to stick together from now on, it’s best to pick up cold resistance items whenever you see them. Even Jongsik has cold resistance items matched from head to toe.’

    Again with the talk about that Jongsik guy. Even though he had just said they were vice-guild leader and guild leader, Jongsik’s name kept coming up from his mouth whenever there was a chance.

    It was to the point of being life-or-death.

    ‘Are you very close?’

    ‘With Jongsik?’

    ‘Yes. You talk about him often and stick with him frequently.’

    ‘Well, we’ve known each other for a long time.’

    How long do you have to know each other for you to treat him that comfortably and trust him that much? Is it really just that you’ve known each other for a long time?

    It was a pretty reasonable suspicion when considering the context, but perhaps to divert Geon-joo’s suspicion elsewhere, or maybe he was just originally dense, Sa-yoon asked Geon-joo if he liked Jongsik.

    It was one of the top five most absurd questions Geon-joo had ever heard in his life.

    Just because he talked about Jongsik a lot, Sa-yoon thought he liked him. In that case, he retorted, asking if Sa-yoon liked him since he called him pretty boy, but the man just tilted his head with an unaffected expression, saying, “Is that so?”

    And when asked why he was treating Geon-joo well, he even spouted nonsense like just assuming he had fallen for him.

    Geon-joo was the only one getting furious.

    If he really doesn’t understand, should he think Sa-yoon has fallen for him?

    It was a sight to behold. Earlier, he had put the ring on Geon-joo’s ring finger and didn’t deny it when asked if he liked him, and now he had even confessed.

    It was clearly a joke to anyone, but being human, Geon-joo was shaken. Wondering if Sa-yoon had done this to Jongsik as well, he narrowed his eyes.

    Does he usually spout such things so readily?

    Now he seemed to understand the meaning of Jongsik calling Sa-yoon a nine-tailed fox. If he spaced out, Sa-yoon might take his liver and gallbladder.

    While Geon-joo was speculating alone that even if Sa-yoon treated Jongsik as just a comfortable guild member, Jongsik might have different feelings for Sa-yoon, Sa-yoon told him to rest for a bit and then go straight to the next gate.

    When asked where they were going, Sa-yoon answered a field, but no gate came to mind. It was partly because Geon-joo had little information about gates, to begin with.

    Since he had just cleared a C-rank gate, it was unsettling to go to the next gate right away, but as he listened to Sa-yoon’s words, he was strangely persuaded.

    He didn’t want to taste the humiliation of the Unknown again. Experiencing that level of helplessness once was enough, so when he heard the gate’s rank and agreed, the answer that came back was unexpected.

    Having conquered a C-rank this time, he had secretly thought it would be B-rank, but it wasn’t B-rank, it was A-rank.

    No matter how much they were targeting the easiest among A-ranks, the atmosphere alone would be different from C-rank.

    He wondered if it was okay to clear gates in such a stepping-stone manner. The doubt that had disappeared after seeing the battle with the Unknown, “Can this person really make me an S-rank?” resurfaced.

    Putting aside the fact that it was more dangerous than C-rank, Geon-joo expressed his intention not to go, thinking he wouldn’t be able to properly kill even a single monster, but the man was stubborn. Just as he was about to tell the man who was persistently trying to drag him that he would quit the guild if he kept acting like this, Sa-yoon spoke.

    ‘I wouldn’t make this offer to anyone else, pretty boy. I’m only doing it because it’s you.’

    ‘Isn’t it a waste for you to let your talent rot too? Who knows, you might become an A-rank right after conquering this gate.’

    ‘I’ve never made this offer to anyone else but you. That’s how outstanding you are, so wouldn’t it be good to test it out? What’s the problem when an S-rank is going with you?’

    His coaxing words swayed Geon-joo’s heart. What drove the nail in when he was hesitating was the last thing Sa-yoon spat out, clicking his tongue.

    ‘If you still don’t want to go even like this, then forget it. I have no intention of taking a coward with me anyway.’

    The disappointment in his voice was blatant. Even though he had been praising Geon-joo all this time, those words that immediately scratched at his pride made him angry, and before he knew it, he found himself agreeing to go.

    He got to properly experience what flattery and persuasion meant.

    ‘But it really is an A-rank gate, right?’

    Despite having some silly conversations in between, the suspicion didn’t disappear, so he asked quietly. Since it was none other than Sa-yoon, it was ambiguous to trust and follow him blindly.

    Wasn’t he a bit suspicious and a bit off?

    There was no harm in asking out of suspicion, but Sa-yoon claimed with an exasperated face that it was indeed an A-rank. Seeing his truly resentful expression, it seemed like he could be trusted. Just as he made that judgment, the car driven by Jongsik arrived right on time, and they boarded it to head to the guild.

    Finally meeting Jongsik again, Geon-joo tried to focus on the conversation between him and Sa-yoon to solve his question of whether Jongsik might like Sa-yoon, but perhaps because the tension had been released, his eyes kept closing.

    Even though they had been together for about two days, they still couldn’t be fully trusted. Thinking that he shouldn’t show a defenseless appearance, he was struggling to drive away drowsiness when the man, who had uncannily noticed his condition, asked if he was tired.

    Affirming would make his endurance a wasted effort, so he answered vaguely. Thinking he could hold out until they reached the guild, he was about to refuse the considerate yet not-so-considerate offer to sleep.

    ‘Oh, don’t decline and just sleep.’

    The man spoke as if making a threat, then took something out and sprayed it on Geon-joo. A sudden scent rushed into his respiratory system.

    He thought it might be something like poison, but unexpectedly, a fresh floral scent wafted out. As if it had a muscle-relaxing function, his body felt a bit more comfortable after inhaling the scent. It was only natural that the drowsiness he had barely driven away came rushing back.

    He tried to endure it, but in the end, his eyes closed. As his consciousness faded, he thought he faintly heard a kind voice saying, “Sleep well.”

    …Since they said they would rest at the guild before going anyway, it should be fine to sleep a little.

    After much deliberation, he released the string of tension that had been tightly gripped, making him extremely fatigued.

    In an instant, he felt drowsiness enveloping him.

    And so, when he woke up from his nap…

    He found himself in front of an S-rank gate.

    Saying it was okay and to sleep without worries?

    Absurdity and futility washed over him, soon replaced by irritation.

    Fuck, there was no deception like this.

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