Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
With his subordinate's report, the head of the Institute's Human Resources Department chuckled and asked, "He turned down the offer to be part of the Institute?"
"Yes, sir. Mr. Lee said that he's already serving under a master and that the Great Lord would understand"
"Haha He's somethin' else, isn't he?" the department head said, fastening his loose tie and rising from his seat.
"Thinking he's some hotshot after dismantling some bomb" he muttered, clicking his tongue annoyedly and almost kicking open the door on his way out. The department head had had only one reason for wanting to bring Ho Sung on board: to leverage his positive image in the media. The department head had no interest in Ho Sung's hidden potential or how he could contribute to enhancing the Institute's military might. To him, Ho Sung was the perfect tool with which to play the media. Of course, Ho Sung turning down the Institute's offer was putting a dent on the department head's pride.
Stressed out, the department head stopped in his tracks and leaned his head back, cracking his neck in all directions. Taking a deep breath, he made his way to the top floor of the building.
When the department head arrived at the VVIP room, the secretary informed the Great Lord of his arrival through the intercom. As soon as he was given permission to enter, the secretary opened the door for the department head. Upon entering and seeing the Great Lord herself, the department head stood with his feet together and saluted her.
Since taking over the administrative duty of the Central Institute, Ji Yool had been officially made the Great Lord, which meant her subordinates were obligated to treat her with the respect worthy of her title.
"Have a seat," she told the department head. However, he shook his head and replied, "With all due respect, ma'am, I'd prefer to stand."
"Suit yourself. So, what brings you here?" she asked, taking her glasses off.
"Our public image has been deteriorating. As a countermeasure, the Executive Board has decided to bring the Head of the Diamond Clan, Ho Sung Lee, on board. We made an offer to him, but he turned it down," the department head said with a clear look of displeasure on his face. To which, Ji Yoo smiled bitterly and said, "That's not surprising."
Hearing that, the department head stared at the Great Lord wide-eyed and added, "According to Ho Sung Lee, he is currently serving someone whom he considers his master, but something's not adding up. It doesn't make sense that one would have someone lord over them at the cost of ruling out the Institute. I propose that we look into anyone who's affiliated with this man"
"Look," Ji Yoo said, her eyes gleaming sharply.
"Ma'am," the department head replied, straightening his back.
"The media will calm itself in time. The monsters won't stop attacking us anytime soon, and we're the only ones who can protect the citizens from the attacks."
"But, ma'am! Don't you find it suspicious that Ho Sung Lee is declining the Institute"
"I'm sure he has his reasons. More importantly, all of our regional branches still remain unoccupied."
"He mentioned your name! What if this master of his"
"Are you done?" Ji Yoo said sharply, her eyes turning ice-cold. At which point, the department head lowered his gaze and said, "Forgive me, ma'am."
"Our regional branches remain without leaders to this day, and frankly, the reports I've been getting about them are seriously disconcerting. What puzzles me is that we still haven't found replacements for them. Was the Executive Board able to come up with a solution for this?"
"So" the department head hesitated, embarrassed
"Seems to me that the board is getting distracted by the small things and forgetting what's really important. I gotta say, my disappointment is growing."
"We will set things right, ma'am."
"Organize that meeting this instant."
"Yes, ma'am," the department head said, saluting the Great Lord. At that moment, just as he was about to leave, Ji Yoo added, "One more thing."
"From here on out, I want you to have nothing to do with Mr. Lee," she said, her eyes growing even colder, and added, "That's an order."
After bowing, the department head left the room, biting down on his lower lip.
In the dark, the man in the black robe opened the thick metal gate to a large factory. As the door opened, the bleak view of the factory filled his eyes. The factory was filled with blacksmiths crafting or repairing weapons under bright lights, sweating profusely. Walking past them, the man in the black robe made his way to a room in the inner part of the factory. Upon arriving, he opened the door and was met by a scraggly, middle-aged man, who looked up from his laptop and greeted him with a bright smile, "Been a while!"
Without greeting back, the man in the black robe took his podao sword out of his inventory and tossed it toward the scraggly man. The sword fell with a heavy thump upon hitting the ground. At the sight of the sword, the owner of the forge laughed heartily and said, "What did you do with that sword? Hunt dragons with it?"
"Cut the chatter. How long will it take?" the man in the black robe asked.
"Hm Let's see. Say a week?"
"I'll give you four days."
Hearing that, a troubled look appeared on the face of the forge's owner.
"C'mon, now. You know how busy things get around here! Four days is pushing it!"
"Four days. No more," the man in the black robe said with an intimidating look. At which point, the owner swallowed the words he was going to say, sighed heavily and said, "All right! All right! Man, I can't remember the last time I got some sleep. Say, I've always been curious. Why the podao sword? Why don't you just get a new weapon while you're at it? There are so many good weapons out there these days."
Staring at the podao sword on the ground as if reminiscing about something, the man in the black robe said, "Four days," and left the room. Standing awkwardly, the owner stared in the man's direction.
Upon exiting the factory, the man in the black robe got in his Ferrari and started the ignition. The engine roared loudly, and the car took the man away from the factory. At that moment, his phone started to ring. When he pressed a button, a hologram of the man in the wheelchair appeared on the right window.
"Were you at the forge?" the man in the wheelchair asked.
"Yes," the man in the black robe replied brusquely.
"I have news. Should I wait till we meet in person, or should I just tell you now?"
"Tell me now."
"Things have taken an unexpected turn. Ho Sung Lee is all over the media now instead of Min Sung Kang."
"I don't see how this can be an issue?"
"You're right. Besides, we're expecting the arrival of a hunter soon. His name's Jan Bred."
"You mean the one who got kicked out of the American Masters' Institute?"
"That's right. Seems like things are speeding up because of this Min Sung Kang character."
"What's in it for Bred? Regaining his title as a hunter?"
"No. He chose to take over Korea. That was his condition for taking up our offer. My guess is that he's planning on gradually expanding his influence."
After that, the man in the black robe pushed another button and ended the call.
After waking up, Min Sung got out of bed. Most of his old habits from the Demonic Realm were gone by that point. Back then, no matter how much he had wanted to sleep, the natural rhythm of his body had prevented him from doing so. As a result, he had never felt fully awake during his time in the Demonic Realm. Now, having been back on Earth for some time, the champion was able to sleep soundly. His peaceful life had made it unnecessary for him to be on constant alert. However, there was one thing that had been bothering him as of late.
'If what Ace said about the demons is true, I'll make sure to obliterate them without a trace.'
Next morning, the champion started his day with his usual routine: coffee. A cup of freshly brewed coffee had the effect of clearing his head. Although subtle in its effect, it did make a noticeable difference in his awareness and ability to control his body both internally and externally. Sipping his coffee, Min Sung went out to the front yard and was greeted by the buzzing cicadas. Though loud, Min Sung didn't find them noisy. Rather, he embraced it all as the sound of nature, which had the effect of relieving his stress.
Listening to the birds chirping nearby in conjunction with the buzzing cicadas, Min Sung savored his morning coffee. Then, when he looked to the side, he saw Ho Sung sleeping on the lawn in the shade, scratching himself all over. Looking at that, Min Sung thought, 'What to eat for breakfast?'
Determining what to eat was as important as determining the restaurant where to eat. Besides, Ho Sung excelled when it came to recommendations, which made the champion's decision-making much more convenient. Thinking about restaurants and the asset that Ho Sung was, Min Sung started to feel hungry. Rubbing his belly, he looked up at Ho Sung. Since it was still early in the morning, the Sun was just starting to rise, and there was no rush.
Putting down the empty coffee mug, Min Sung rose from his seat slowly. Since Bowl had been keeping the house clean, Min Sung didn't have to worry about doing any of the cleaning. However, the front yard didn't seem to be as well maintained. The grass and the trees were starting to look slightly dry, and the automatic irrigation system on its own wasn't enough to keep the entire front yard fresh and green.
'Maybe I should water these plants before we go out for breakfast,' Min Sung thought. Opening the faucet, the champion picked up the hose and started to walk around the front yard, watering the grass and the trees. Shortly after, Ho Sung woke up, rubbing his eyes.
"Sir? What are you doing?" he asked, his eyes still half-closed as he scratched the mosquito bite on his neck.
"Any recommendation for breakfast?" Min Sung replied while watering the plants. After looking around, half-asleep and with a swollen face, Ho Sung looked toward the champion.
"Sir," he said, letting out a small sigh and adding, "Is this really necessary? People treat their dogs better than this! I mean, who goes to sleep and wakes up on the lawn!?"
"Sir, that's not what I meant," Ho Sung said, closing his eyes.
"Then, get ready to go out," the champion said, tossing the hose to the side. "And clean this up. What's for breakfast?"
"Soondubu soup," Ho Sung said, looking like he had given up.
With that, the champion went into the house, and Ho Sung, rising to his feet, picked up the water hose and followed the champion.