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    Bae Deok-ho.

    I pretended to be surprised, but actually…

    ‘…I don’t know who he is.’

    The problem wasn’t that I had no idea, but that I vaguely didn’t know.

    Hmm. I’ve heard that name a lot somewhere. I have no clue about his ability, and his fashion sense is even worse.

    Cha Jaeha, despite having picked his opponent, waited for the match to start with his eyes closed, not even glancing at him.

    However, he seemed somewhat angry.

    ‘Jaeha is scary when he’s angry.’

    By the way, although Cha Jaeha was handsome, he wasn’t a man with a kind appearance. So much so that Ha Cheong-won gave him nicknames like ‘the snout of good and evil’ and ‘Cha Jaeha and his vicious gang.’

    …Well, in the first place, the SH1 unit itself had quite the temperament.

    When Hwa-shin swiftly shifted his gaze, Moo-eum was sitting with his arms crossed. Despite having a puppy-like gentle face, in contrast to Cha Jaeha…

    “…What is it?”

    “Hahaha, nothing.”

    Their personalities are quite quirky. The kids from the SH1 unit all had this feeling.

    Then, here – No, why do I like a kid with such a nasty temper? This question might arise. Even Dragon had asked me before.

    Whenever that happened, I answered, “The kid is kind-hearted.”

    Cha Jaeha was a model hero who precisely adhered to the values of ‘saving people.’

    He saved and sacrificed for others without expecting anything in return. He never backed down and always kept his word.

    Entirely with his own strength.

    He had a stubborn side, but that didn’t mean his actions were foolish. When faced with a wall, he somehow smashed through it. When someone told him to give up, he cursed at them to give up themselves and was the first to jump into the flames.

    If this isn’t being kind-hearted, then what is? Even if his words were a bit rough, Cha Jaeha was, after all, ‘a kind-hearted kid.’ So, I could embrace his somewhat crazy personality with affection for the protagonist.

    Yes, attachment is truly a scary thing. This elderly know that well.

    “But it’s surprising.”

    “What is?”

    Moo-eum leaned forward and continued.

    “That he picked Bae Deok-ho. I don’t know why he would choose such a bastard. That hero wanted to appear more sensationally on broadcasts, so he pretended he couldn’t save a child he could have saved. He cried during an interview on TV and gained sympathy. He denies it, but among heroes, it’s just a widespread rumor. That he abandoned the child to become a star. If a guy like that has a match with Cha Jaeha, he’ll definitely brag about it.”

    Ah, right. Come to think of it, there was a name ‘Bae Deok-ho’ somewhere in Yoo Hwa-shin’s memory. It was a case that came to the civil complaints department after the parents reported it, with the content: ‘Is a hero’s duty to appear on broadcasts?’

    “I also have the desire to become famous, but that’s going too far.”

    Moo-eum uncharacteristically revealed his anger on his face.

    “…The kid was really young.”

    The tightly gripped headphones were crumpled. Because he’s an S-rank, his ability leaks out even with a slight loss of emotional control.

    “Moo-eum, weren’t those headphones newly bought?”

    “I can just buy new ones.”

    “Hahaha, kids these days are so cool.”

    Meanwhile, Bae Deok-ho on the arena was dreaming of a splendid future. Although there were bad rumors among heroes that his failure to save the child wasn’t a mistake, it was impossible to prove anyway. If he just went on broadcasts and pretended to cry a little for that kid, and even had a match against the sensational hero Cha Jaeha… Whether he lost or won…

    ‘Guaranteed fame.’

    The corners of his mouth twitched. It was impossible for him to defeat Cha Jaeha anyway. He would use his wind ability to slightly lift his body to buy time, then declare his defeat.

    Before the match began, Bae Deok-ho extended his hand to Cha Jaeha first.

    “Let’s do our best.”

    Cha Jaeha stared at the hand he offered, then grabbed it. Bae Deok-ho’s face momentarily contorted. He had asked for a light handshake, but what he received was a heavy test of strength.

    ***

    Thwack.

    What is a good person? The definition may vary, but Elric, Yoo Hwa-shin, thought that at least he himself wasn’t one.

    Having lived for nearly 100 years with the motto ‘As long as I’m happy, that’s all that matters, and if someone gets in my way, I’ll turn them into stars in the sky.’

    Saving or helping someone wasn’t particularly important to him. Even if he did save someone, it would be because they were extremely important to him. Like Dragon, whom he had known for a long time, or the characters he loved most from the book. At least not a complete stranger.

    Thwack.

    Then let’s look at our protagonist Cha Jaeha at this point, who helps others without expecting anything in return.

    Thwack.

    Of course, seeing the beating Cha Jaeha was giving, this place was like Avīci Hell, and that bastard was a demon like no other.

    Thwack. The dull sound filled the arena. Moo-eum pointed at Bae Deok-ho with his finger.

    “Isn’t that person going to die?”

    “Nah~, then our Cha Jaeha can’t lose.”

    Normally, one might expect a response like – No, we should worry about that person – but not from Moo-eum.

    Because Jeong Moo-eum also thought that bastard deserved the beating. In the first place, although his question was out of concern, Moo-eum had asked in a dry, monotonous voice. He lowered his finger.

    “I guess Cha Jaeha called him out to beat him up for real. He’s been beating him all day.”

    Bae Deok-ho, with his short hair sticking up, was hanging half-dead, his collar tightly gripped. The blood had rushed to one side of his face, making only his left cheek swollen and bright red. His right eye was so swollen from the puffed-up flesh that he could no longer see in front of him.

    Cha Jaeha quietly uttered a word.

    “Say it again.”

    Eeek. Bae Deok-ho’s shoulders trembled in surprise, and soon his lips, resembling two lines of gimbap, slowly moved.

    “Com-Compared to a ch-child’s life, de-defeating monsters is-.”

    A child’s life. Cha Jaeha’s eyebrows twitched. One eyebrow rose sharply as if furious. The fist that rose with it slammed into Bae Deok-ho’s face.

    Thwack.

    “Again.”

    “A ch-child’s li-.”

    Blood flowed from his nose, entering his mouth as he spoke.

    Thwack.

    “Again.”

    In the meantime, let me ‘again’ say that Cha Jaeha was kind-hearted. However, that kindness included beating up bad guys.

    “A chil-.”

    Thwack.

    It was a one-sided fight.

    If Bae Deok-ho even tried to utter the word ‘defeat’ to end the match, Cha Jaeha would immediately yank his collar and grab his neck. And he would slam his fist into his stomach or face, wherever.

    He didn’t use his ability. He was beating him purely with the physical strength of an S-rank.

    If it was before the 1st unit was formed, he would have had some control.

    ‘It seems he still has a hard time using fire on people.’

    Cha Jaeha brushed up his disheveled hair on one side. He wasn’t tired at all, so he didn’t even sweat. However, he wanted to hit more accurately.

    At this point, the heroes couldn’t even discern if this was a match or an attempt to kill someone. The Department of Appreciation employee, who was contemplating whether to declare Cha Jaeha’s victory, took a step onto the arena…

    ‘Oh my, fuck. …I’m going to die.’

    The moment he faced Cha Jaeha’s beast-like eyes, he gulped and returned to his place.

    Cha Jaeha threw Bae Deok-ho, who was coughing up blood mixed with phlegm, onto the cold floor. He looked up at the demon before him, trembling. Fear, it was truly fear. How did I end up like this?

    “Do I scare you?”

    Even with a face turned into a bloody pulp in front of him, Cha Jaeha still maintained an expressionless face.

    Bae Deok-ho bit his lip with a groan. With his shattered pride, he slowly nodded. Cha Jaeha spoke while unclenching his bloody fist and shaking it off.

    “That child you abandoned must have been even more scared. Because he faced that huge monster alone.”

    The blood he shook off splattered onto Bae Deok-ho’s face with a splat. Cha Jaeha opened his mouth.

    “A hero…”

    He looked down at Bae Deok-ho again.

    “Must prioritize saving civilians in any situation.”

    He squatted down to meet eyes with Bae Deok-ho, who was sitting on the ground.

    “Deciding which lives to save, judging, calculating… that’s not our role.”

    Hwa-shin, who had been eavesdropping on their conversation from afar, lightly clenched his fist.

    “A hero’s job is to save people. And we have to show that through results, not just effort. That’s what makes it a job. If… we can’t do that…”

    Cha Jaeha clenched his fist tightly. Veins bulged prominently on the back of his hand.

    If we can’t do that…

    He reflected on his past. The burnt monster, house, photos, corpses. Himself, the only one left. All that remained in his hand was the ability to kill people.

    —With this ability, Cha Jaeha can prevent what happened to him from occurring again.

    His dark, thick eyebrows furrowed. Eyes filled with anger, not tears, spoke.

    “If we can’t do that, what’s the point of having this damn ability?”

    Every word he said was a proper argument. Yet it was spine-chilling.

    Hero Cha Jaeha. S-rank.

    The man who didn’t even approach gates in crowded places until he had been a hero for a year.

    Instead, the man who sought out S-rank gates alone and eliminated all the monsters before they reached the city.

    The internet was flooded with posts praising him, and his achievements could only be seen through the hero promotional videos released by the government. To both heroes and the general public, Cha Jaeha was an existence more like a star than a celebrity.

    {Did you see the Cha Jaeha video released on the association’s official website today?}

    [Video]

    ㄴ dk djfrnfalcuTsk

    ㄴ He must have been in a hurry. You typed ‘face crazy’ with touch typing, lolㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋ

    ㄴ His face is a national treasure. With that face, you’re an S-rank hero? Ah, Cha Jaeha-ssi. Plea-ase. Give us an interview. ㅠㅠㅠㅠㅠㅠㅠ It’s a bit much to get married without knowing my future husband’s personal information.

    ㄴ Husband;;ㅋㅋㅋㅋ Overinvolvement prevention line —————-

    ㄴ Cha Jaeha is a true hero. Thank you. For being a hero of Korea.

    ㄴ Honestly, if Cha Jaeha hadn’t handled all the S-rank gates in advance, quite a lot of people would have been injured.

    But Bae Deok-ho thought…

    Is this a hero? Is this what a hero is?

    This… this is just a demon.

    But it was already too late.

    Thwack.

    The final blow.

    Only then could Bae Deok-ho lose consciousness. Because Cha Jaeha didn’t frantically wake him up again.

    Cha Jaeha picked up one of Bae Deok-ho’s arms, sprawled on the floor, as if picking up a discarded rag, and took him to the edge of the arena. The Department of Appreciation employee hastily declared Cha Jaeha’s victory, and Bae Deok-ho was carried out of the arena on a prepared stretcher.

    He was the second hero to be this severely injured after the hero whose joints were shattered in the first match.

    As Cha Jaeha descended from the arena after finishing the match, his gaze caught a small spark between the cracks in the floor.

    No way. Did he momentarily lose control of his ability during the previous match? He quickly scanned the audience seats.

    He should have been more careful.

    Fortunately, most of the heroes gathered here were B-rank or above. They probably wouldn’t get burned by this level of sparks.

    But there was one person. One person below that rank.

    His seat was in the first row, closest to the arena. The orange flames attached to his sleeve caught Cha Jaeha’s eye. Those flames had already escaped his control. In this situation, if they suddenly flared up…

    “Damn it.”

    Cha Jaeha, his face turning pale, tried to approach him immediately but stopped in his tracks.

    The man, Yoo Hwa-shin, flicked his finger with a nonchalant face. Then it disappeared. The flames on his arm vanished in an instant.

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