At ‘Paradise,’ located near Metheus’ shantytown...
“Ah, it’s hot.”
“Aish, hold still. Why have such a big body?”
Kim Sujeong calmly slapped Ma Seokdu’s back. Ma Seokdu was trying to scratch his back, but he couldn’t do it because his forearm was too big.
Kim Sujeong smiled at the sight. “I didn’t know it would be reproduced in virtual reality. This place is too real. However, you look really funny. Try it again, Oppa.”
At Kim Sujeong’s urging, Ma Seokdu tried to scratch his back again, but his arm couldn’t reach. Ma Seokdu made a sulky expression and Kim Sujeong burst out laughing. “Puhahaha!”
Kim Sujeong laughed as she grabbed her belly. It had only been a short time since Ma Seokdu came here, but it was thanks to the vigilantes that security of the shantytown, which had more accidents than expected, improved so much. Members of the vigilante group were often injured and came to visit Kim Sujeong for healing. They also got buffs from her before hunting so they became close.
[The firefly star, ‘Camille,’ is suppressing her laughter.]
“Ah, it’s so funny that tears are coming out.”
Kim Sujeong wiped away her tears with her right hand while Ma Seokdu blushed and urged her to start the healing, “Please do it quickly. They’re waiting.”
Kim Sujeong observed Ma Seokdu’s injured area and applied acupuncture. First of all, there was a slight head injury on his forehead. Judging from the three dots on his forehead, it was clearly a mark made by a fork spoon. Additionally, he had several broken ribs and his legs were covered with bruises. Normally, it was difficult to walk when beaten to this extent, but Ma Seokdu had casually walked here. He was more manly than she had expected.
Meanwhile, Ma Seokdu was replaying the battle just now. Dark Wolf’s movements were like the wind. There was no doubt that the members of the vigilante group wouldn’t be able to cope even if they joined forces. It was like dealing with an eagle who was called the king of the sky. The more surprising thing was that Dark Wolf rarely used skills. Of course, there was the difference due to their level. However, Ma Seokdu thought it was too much that he couldn’t hit Dark Wolf a single time.
‘i never dreamed that I, Ma Seokdu, would be hit by a fork spoon.’
Ma Seokdu touched the place where he had been hit with the fork spoon.
Kim Sujeong scolded him, “You can’t touch it yet. You are being healed.”
“Ah, sorry,” Ma Seokdu responded nicely as he recalled what happened before. Had Legless Bird ever lost so helplessly since his older brother, Park Muyeol? The words that Dark Wolf spoke after the battle flashed through his mind.
‘I’m sorry for deceiving you. I am Dark Wolf, the chief of Metheus. I wanted to see your skills. After you are treated, come back to the bar. I will buy you a drink.’
Dark Wolf said this and then walked proudly back into the bar. The person who beat him up was going to buy him drinks. Ma Seokdu was a person who couldn’t endure being beaten up. However, no matter how he thought about it, there was no way he could beat up Dark Wolf.
‘Damn. What is his identity?’
Aside from that, Dark Wolf was someone very familiar with combat. The strikes, hitting the joints, grappling, pain tolerance, strength, and speed. He had a perfect balance that didn’t neglect anything. Thus, he was even scarier. He was like a maniac born to fight. Ma Seokdu felt his blood boiling for the first time in ages. He was also a natural fighter.
‘I will go there and ask him to fight again.’
Ma Seokdu was tired of hunting and bored when working as a vigilante. He suddenly felt a sense of purpose and became full of energy.
“It is done.”
“Thank you, Sujeong.”
“No. Go carefully~”
Ma Seokdu opened the door and saw his colleagues standing still after they were treated. Ma Seokdu gave them a fierce smile.
“Let’s go for a drink.”
* * *
Meanwhile, I was having a conversation with the owner of the bar called ‘Scarlet.’
“Are you really giving me this much money?”
“Yes. I would like to rent out the entire store today. Can you prepare plenty of alcohol? I think those friends will drink a lot more than I expect.”
Due to Cognitive Impairment, the owner of the bar never dreamed I was the lord here. In fact, it was now fashionable in Metheus for people to wear the ‘wolf mask.’ Therefore, he was in front of me and never dreamt that I was the lord here.
“Hehe. What type of profit is this?”
The owner of scarlet, an NPC named Anton, started to set the drinks on each table in the bar in a happy manner. Maybe it was because this was a remote alley, but business wasn’t good. Thus, there was plenty of alcohol. No, it was overflowing. I didn’t know if we could drink all of this. By the way, the snacks...
I asked, “Do you have any snacks?”
“Ah, well... in fact, I was going to close my business in two days. I cleared out the ingredients today so I can’t prepare snacks...”
Anton’s words trailed off like he realized he shouldn’t have said it. He seemed afraid I would withdraw my intention to rent out the entire store.
“It’s fine. I’ll make it.”
Anton started to set out the drinks again with a bright expression. I naturally started Weather Cooking. The floating pot was taken out and I started a fire with Solar.
“Hehe. Good weather dishes~”
Solar’s second evolution made it possible to create hands that swept the surface of the floating pot, allowing even more fire to heat it up. Anton saw Solar for the first time and his eyes shook.
...He must be someone who migrated here. Those who lived in Metheus since the beginning would’ve realized my identity because they had seen me cooking. Based on his surprise, he must be a newly settled immigrant. Well, he should still be regarded as my resident. I used the familiar techniques to make snacks while asking Anton, “You are closing?”
“Ah, yes. That’s right. Haha...”
Anton finished setting out the drinks, wiped his sweat and smiled awkwardly.
“What are you going to do after closing?”
“I don’t know... in fact, business isn’t good so I think I’ll just work as a mercenary. However, now that I’ve received the money you gave me, I might try running the business again. I was always starving as a child, so I dreamed about making a lot of money when I grew up.”
“You have a big dream.”
“A dream is just a dream.”
Anton made an expression close to resignation as he stretched. I had a good idea and inquired, “Is there anything uncomfortable about the business?”
“Well, for example, what do you want to improve?”
Anton thought for a long time before finally replying, “It is the taxes.”
“Yes, those who have occupied a good geographical location can pay taxes because their business is doing well. However, those who came in late like me are very stressed when paying taxes. In fact, this is why I wanted to close the business.”
“Hmm.” It was a problem I had never thought about. I thought that Helena was handling the taxes well and was relieved. It turned out that there were other problems involved in it. I thought for a moment before nodding. “Don’t worry.”
“Nothing. You can go. It seems like my friends have come.”
I shifted my gaze out of the window and the guys I beat up had already been healed and were coming here with Ma Seokdu in the lead. I wondered if they wouldn’t come because they were angry about being beaten. Fortunately, this wasn’t the case.
“Oh, then have a good time. Thank you for appearing in my life at the very last moment, when I was really about to give up.”
Anton bowed his head honestly and sincerely before going outside. He was running excitedly under the moonlight. I watched his back and Anton’s last words touched my heart. I was deeply troubled.
“What are you thinking about? We’re here.”
I turned my head at the familiar voice and saw a crowd filling the bar. At the center was Ma Seokdu. I told them, “Sit down. I have bought all the alcohol.”
“W-Why don’t you take off your mask? You must want to get along with us if you are buying alcohol for all of us. However, you should show us your face. No, before that, will you accept it if I challenge you again?”
I thought for a moment before nodding. I felt good. I also thought it would be fun and interesting if I sparred with him sometimes. I replied, “I will accept, but before that...”
I turned off the Cognitive Impairment skill. The method to turn it off was simple. I just needed to take off the ‘mask.’ The wolf mask was removed with my hand and scattered through the air, magically disappearing from this world. Their mouths dropped open with amazement when they saw my face. Their chins almost touched the ground.
“I will introduce myself again. I am Choi Chuntaek, the first leader of Legless Bird and an old friend of Park Muyeol.”
* * *
Under the shimmering moonlight, Metheus’ night deepened. It was a pleasure to have a drink with Ma Seokdu and the members of Legless Bird. I got the impression that they were good-natured friends and we were able to get along well. I even thought that Muyeol had managed the organization well.
Now I returned to my office. It was because there was a problem I needed to resolve before logging out. Helena was sleeping at her desk. She stirred when I entered, saw me, and asked with a tired expression, “Umm... What’s going on at this late hour?”
I saw the pile of papers and it seemed like she had a lot of work. I felt sorry when I saw it. I told her, “I’ve placed too much of a burden on you. I’m sorry for your hard work.”
“No. I’m doing this because I like it. The residents of Garbage Village are also delighted. Now this is our second home. I’m not overdoing it.”
“Thank you for telling me so.”
I felt like I was looking at my daughter and smiled. She was only an NPC in this world, but to me, she was the same as a daughter.
“I wanted to discuss something with you.”
“What is it...?”
"Taxes. I want to reduce it a little bit.”
“Ah, how much? Right now, the tax is $10,000 per person. The merchants are $50,000.”
I inadvertently recalled the last words Anton said before he left.
Thank you for appearing in my life at the very last moment, when I was really about to give up.
The words left a deep impression on me and were engraved in my heart. Perhaps those who didn’t have time to listen to people weren’t qualified to be kings. I wasn’t a king, but I was someone in a ruling position and should take responsibility. I looked at Helena and told her, “...$4.”
“Let’s go with $4.”
Since this day, all of Metheus’ taxes were fixed at $4.