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    “Cough, cough!”

    Floundering in the gorge and finally managing to climb onto land, Geon-joo, completely drenched, coughed up the water he had swallowed while supporting himself on the ground. After being submerged in water and resurfacing, his upturned eyes had lowered, and his sharp irritability had disappeared, suggesting that Geon-joo’s temper was indeed water-soluble.

    “Ack, kuh!”

    “Hey, why are you acting like you’re about to die just from going into the water once?”

    “Eyes… cough!”


    “The Imoogi… cough! Eyes… met, its eyes.”

    Perhaps due to the coughing, Geon-joo spoke in fragmented words of two or three syllables, then scowled deeply and grasped his throat. Staring at the wet ground, he coughed a few more times and gasped for breath. It wouldn’t have been surprising if one thought he was about to die.

    “Why are you so startled just from making eye contact with a dead Imoogi?”


    Although Sa-yoon spoke in a reproachful manner, Geon-joo either chose to ignore him or was unable to respond due to the difficulty in speaking. After writhing a few times, he finally lifted his drooping head. His eyes were red and bloodshot.

    Sa-yoon, who had met Geon-joo’s gaze, closed his mouth. The whites of his eyes, which had turned red, were filled with moisture.

    This is quite… not bad.

    Sa-yoon wasn’t sure if Geon-joo’s eyes had become like that because water had entered them or if he had cried out of distress, but Geon-joo’s eyes were moist and red.

    Sa-yoon had thought that Geon-joo would look pretty if he cried, but now that he witnessed a similar sight, he realized that reality surpassed his imagination.

    Perhaps it was due to the redness. Sa-yoon’s gaze was drawn to Geon-joo’s eyes, which seemed slightly swollen, and his furrowed brows, creased due to his grimace. His suffering face seemed momentarily poignant, and his wet appearance was beautiful. The water dripping from his fall into the gorge almost looked like tears of sin.

    What kind of face is that?

    It seemed like if Geon-joo were to cry and wail when faced with a difficult situation, half of it would be resolved through persuasion alone.

    Sa-yoon had never considered himself to have a sadistic inclination, but today, for the first time, he glimpsed an unknown aspect of himself. Geon-joo instinctively flinched, looking at Sa-yoon. It resembled a frightened cat taking a defensive stance.

    Cats, foxes, dogs.

    Upon coming to his senses, Sa-yoon realized that he had been comparing Geon-joo to every animal he found even slightly appealing.

    He needed to stop being lenient just because he found someone’s face attractive.

    But what could he do?

    Favoring good looks was in his nature. It was to the extent that Sa-yoon’s mother had remarked when he was young that he wasn’t shy, but rather shy-faced.

    Approaching the still sitting Geon-joo and extending his hand to wipe away the moisture, Geon-joo, who seemed displeased, narrowed the space between his eyebrows and swatted Sa-yoon’s hand away before standing up.

    “What are you doing, giving a disease and then offering a cure?”

    “Well, who asked you to behave insolently?”

    “So you throw someone into the water?”

    “So I can’t kill you, can I?”

    “This is insane.”

    When Sa-yoon didn’t back down, Geon-joo, who had been fuming with anger, shook his wet hair to alleviate his frustration. As his straight fingers ran through his black hair, water splashed in all directions. Although some of the water splashed into Sa-yoon’s eyes, he didn’t show much reaction and rummaged through his inventory to take out an artifact.

    As Sa-yoon tossed the item with a whoosh, Geon-joo, who was looking elsewhere but was quick to notice the presence of treasure, nimbly caught the thrown accessory. Seeing that, Sa-yoon thought that Geon-joo, like Jongsik, would be able to live frugally and diligently.

    “Since wet clothes are heavy and make it difficult to move, wear this.”

    “What is it?”

    “An earring with a drying function. It’s in the form of an ear cuff, so you should be able to use it even if your ears aren’t pierced.”

    “It’s not something weird, right?”

    “If you’re suspicious, check the item description.”

    “What kind of earring has a drying function?”

    Geon-joo, who spoke as if it was ridiculous, checked the item window. Initially having a doubtful expression, he soon looked at Sa-yoon in surprise. It was evident that he had read the description that said something like, “The earring made from the plants of a dry land spreads the land’s curse to the wearer’s body.”

    “Is it really a drying function?”

    “Why don’t you try wearing it before asking?”


    Glancing at Sa-yoon, Geon-joo carefully put on the earring on the side without the ear cuff. As a clicking sound was heard and the screw part of the ear cuff tightened around his earlobe, the moisture visibly drained from his soaked clothes.

    Red suits him well too.

    Sa-yoon gazed at the red cubic zirconia resting on Geon-joo’s soft-looking earlobe and warned him.

    “Take it off when you think it’s moderately dry. If you wear it for too long, your skin will also dry out and crack.”

    There was a reason why the system described it as a land’s curse instead of a drying function. In fact, the earring, which was more of a cursed item than a daily-use item, would absorb the moisture from the wearer’s body if worn for more than three days, turning them into a mummy.

    Since Geon-joo was someone who didn’t know the meaning of moderation, the person wearing it had to directly control the usage time.

    Upon Sa-yoon’s warning, Geon-joo touched his clothes and was startled.

    “It’s real…”

    “Have you been living while being deceived all your life?”

    “When the Guild Leader says that, there’s no answer other than affirmative.”

    “Then keep living while being deceived by me.”


    In response to the outrageous statement, there was no reaction to the extent that it was considered too much. Sa-yoon came to understand, to some degree, the words of creators and celebrities who said that negative comments were better than no comments. Receiving indifference made him feel quite unpleasant.

    “Don’t ignore me and give me an answer.”

    “So, where are we going now?”

    When Sa-yoon demanded an answer, Geon-joo completely changed the subject. It was an impudent behavior, but considering Geon-joo’s hardships of fighting the Imoogi and falling into the water, Sa-yoon decided to look around. As he trailed off with a “Well,” Geon-joo was the one who continued the conversation first.

    “Are you done with what you had to do up there?”

    “Monster hunting?”


    “I’m done, then. Didn’t you see the clear condition window?”

    When Sa-yoon casually mentioned what he hadn’t said because it seemed like he was boasting, Geon-joo replied that he had seen it. Sa-yoon frowned at the excessively calm response.

    “Is that all?”

    “What do you mean?”

    “Your reaction.”

    “Then what, do you want me to applaud you?”

    Geon-joo, unable to hide his absurdity, clapped his hands, producing an awkward sound of friction. It wasn’t like he was prostrating himself. Look at that dry expression and half-hearted gesture. He wasn’t just Han Geon-joo, but Han Geon-joo the Dry.

    In the end, Sa-yoon pointed out that doing it like that was worse than not doing it at all.

    “Then let’s stop the applause here. What I meant was, do we not need to go back up again?”

    It was hard enough coming down here, so going up seems like it would be even harder.

    Geon-joo looked upward and spoke sarcastically. Sa-yoon knew it was a remark blaming him, but he maintained a lack of reaction, just as Geon-joo had done. Although it had felt unpleasant when he was on the receiving end, actually doing it turned out to be quite a good coping method.

    “Unless we’re wandering around to find a base or going to search for a dungeon, there won’t be a need to go up for a while. I’ve already finished clearing things up there.”

    “Clearing up?”

    “If you don’t regularly clear out the monsters when their numbers are high, it becomes difficult later on.”


    “If the number of monsters increases too much, an unplanned monster wave occurs, and you have to respond without any preparation.”

    When Sa-yoon first entered the field, he couldn’t understand why monster waves kept occurring at every opportunity. It was a time when he didn’t know that if he spent five days in the field without defeating a certain number of monsters, the next day would mark the beginning of a hellish experience where monster waves would start every twelve hours due to the accumulation of too many monsters.

    If the first wave wasn’t resolved quickly, in the worst-case scenario, he would experience the bizarre phenomenon of waves overlapping and swarming in. By that point, it was already too late to take action, and he had to give up on surviving.

    Monsters were teeming in every place his eyes could see, and even the sturdiest base couldn’t withstand the onslaught of thousands of monsters.

    When the overlapping waves had hit, Sa-yoon had lost all his companions who had entered the field together, and he alone had died and revived more than 20 times, barely managing to escape the wave zone.

    Even with his current skills, he doubted whether he could handle thousands of monsters alone. If he took it step by step, he might be able to handle 10,000 monsters, but even for Sa-yoon, it was difficult to defeat them all at once.

    He enjoyed challenging battles, but overlapping waves weren’t particularly appealing. It was just a simple and mindless repetition of slashing and killing monsters. Moreover, now Geon-joo was with him, so if overlapping waves occurred, there was a high probability that Sa-yoon would lose Geon-joo.

    Sa-yoon recalled Geon-joo’s previous battle where he had struggled even against A-grade monsters and examined the man whose moisture had almost completely dried up.

    He didn’t expect a newly B-grade hunter who had just entered the field to be able to kill S-grade monsters. If he did, that would be abnormal. However, Sa-yoon thought that Geon-joo might be able to manage by providing battle support from behind at the right time and place.

    The problem was time.

    They needed to increase Geon-joo’s skills by more than twofold within five days before the waves started, so time was tight.

    Contemplating the fastest way for Geon-joo to improve his skills and a place where he could gain combat experience without dying, Sa-yoon stealthily grabbed the wrist of Geon-joo, who was trying to distance himself from Sa-yoon with good intuition.

    “What is it again?”

    Geon-joo, who had realized that Sa-yoon’s touch foretold a rough future, asked while raising the corners of his eyes. Sa-yoon slightly pulled Geon-joo’s hand and tugged his body, which was trying to move away from him, and then smiled.

    “Do you want to try some special training, pretty boy?”

    “Special training?”

    Geon-joo blinked his eyes and repeated Sa-yoon’s words, as it was a topic they hadn’t discussed beforehand.

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