Episode 7 – Landlord (1)
We followed Lee Jihye and entered Chungmuro. Yoo Sangah saw the shattered screen door of the platform and said.
“...It is a chaotic atmosphere.”
As they climbed up from the tracks of railway line 3, they saw some people sitting down.
[You have entered Chungmuro.]
[The third scenario is currently in progress.]
[#GIR-8761 channel is active.]
[#BIR-3642 channel is active.]
From Chungmuro onwards, the size of the scenario grew and the dokkaebi channels increased. From now on, that naive Bihyung would have a hard time.
Some middle-aged people saw us and waved their hands.
“Oh, little samurai. You brought new people?”
A samurai. I guess Lee Jihye could be called that if the sponsor behind her wasn’t known. Sooner or later, they would be punished. Lee Jihye frowned at the middle-aged people.
“Are you drunk again?”
“Hahahat! What is there to do other than drink when the world has become like this?”
The middle-aged people seemed relaxed, unlike those who were experiencing a disaster. It was natural since they were wearing the uniform of soldiers. It was definitely different from Gumho Station.
Now was the true beginning.
“But did your friends come through the tunnel? How great...won’t they have a lot of coins?’
Then one of the middle-aged men turned to Yoo Sangah.
“Young lady over there, what is your name? Would you like to rent a room for cheap?”
“Haha, you don’t know the system here yet? This place―”
Lee Jihye cut off the middle-aged man’s words.
“Ajusshis. Don’t try to trick the newcomers.”
“Uhuh, they must know anyway. This is what everyone is doing to live...”
“If you don’t want to be injured then get lost.”
The middle-aged man paled at Lee Jihye’s words.
“This...young children have already learned something bad to eat.”
“Hey, Kang-ssi. Stop it.”
The middle-aged people turned away. They disappeared into transit line 4 and Lee Jihye put away her sword.
“I brought you here so take care from now on. I’m not a babysitter.”
This child was speaking so indifferently.
I looked around. Chungmuro. This was the stage of the third scenario, where completely different rules were in play.
“S-Shit! I’ll kill you if you come close...”
A man was in the middle of the platform for subway line 3, waving a knife around and threatening people.
At this feet was a tile that was 1 pyeong (3.306 m2) in size, emitting a green light that stretched into the air. Yoo Sangah asked, “...Why is he doing that?”
“I don’t know.”
I could guess but there was no need to scare her just now. There were many people sitting down with a knife on subway line 3. Unlike the previous middle-aged men, their faces were filled with despair. I glanced at them and asked Lee Jihye.
“Is Yoo Jonghyuk here?”
Lee Jihye, who was about to leave, turned her head at ‘Yoo Jonghyuk.’ There was vigilance in her eyes.
“...Who are you?”
Yoo Jonghyuk had already ruined this child.
Well, I could understand. It was difficult to find a constellation on the level of Maritime War God, even if he searched through all of South Korea. If I was in Yoo Jonghyuk’s position, I would’ve found her soon after coming to Chungmuro.
“I am a companion of Yoo Jonghyuk who came back alive.”
“...Companion? How is that possible?”
Lee Jihye stared at me with suspicious eyes. I shrugged shamelessly.
“That guy will understand if you tell him. Where is Yoo Jonghyuk now?”
“...Master isn’t here right now.”
“Really? This is difficult. I have something I need to say.”
Lee Jihye’s expression distorted as she stared at me with something like betrayal.
Ah, I knew very well what she thought of Yoo Jonghyuk. Moreover, it was already Master...it will be difficult to gain her this way.
Lee Jihye called out to a boy squatting in the corner.
“Hey, over there!”
“Eh? Yes, yes!”
“Watch over these people right here! I’m going to find Master.”
The boy looked at us with puzzled eyes.
“...Who are they?”
“I don’t know. Master’s friends?”
At Lee Jihye’s words, the eyes of the people on the platform became bigger. They looked at us with amazement and awe.
“...Yoo Jonghyuk-ssi’s friends?”
The boy ran up to us and exclaimed. It was a boy who looked roughly around Lee Jihye’s age.
“Are you really Yoo Jonghyuk-ssi’s friends?”
I couldn’t lie when I saw the boy’s clear eyes. At least, if I was an ordinary person.
“He is a good friend.”
Recently, I didn’t seem to be an ‘ordinary’ person. At least, it was the case here.
* * *
While taking care of the unconscious Jung Heewon, I heard about Chungmuro from the boy. Along with Lee Jihye, this boy was one of Yoo Jonghyuk’s followers.
“...Thus, we followed Yoo Jonghyuk-ssi. Are you listening to me?”
Of course, I wasn’t listening properly. The story of psychopath Yoo Jonghyuk’s heroism wasn’t interesting.
The short summary was something like this.
“Three days ago, Yoo Jonghyuk appeared and saved some of you, including Lee Jihye, from the monsters. Isn’t that the story?”
The boy frowned at his story be summarized so simply.
“Uh, the story isn’t that simple...”
He was surely spellbound by Yoo Jonghyuk.
Suddenly, a presence with overwhelming force rescued them. It would be strange if they didn’t follow him.
But the boy didn’t know. The boy survived not because Yoo Jonghyuk was a good guy, but because the boy was luckily with Lee Jihye.
“Now can I ask you a few things I am curious about?”
Lee Hyunsung started asking politely while I was locked in my thoughts.
“Yes. Just ask.”
“How is the food supply here?”
“That, it is a bit embarrassing to say... some people, including me, are dependent on Jihye. Jihye hunts and asks Yoo Jonghyuk-ssi to cook...”
It was unknown when he made a checklist but Lee Hyunsung took out his notes and started to write something. He really was a soldier.
“Then how is your drinking water?”
“We give food or coins to the ‘Landlord Alliance’ upstairs in exchange.”
I sat straight up. Now the story was becoming interesting. The boy hesitantly opened his mouth.
“They are the landlords in charge of the Chungmuro area. They occupy the upper floors and we call them the Landlord Alliance.”
Chungmuro’s Landlord Alliance. It was a name that appeared in Ways of Survival.
“What type of people are they?”
“Well, what should I say...”
In fact, there was no need for me to ask. Perhaps, according to my expectations, one of the ‘10 Evils’ was in Chungmuro right now.
“They are just landlords.”
This answer was the correct answer in a sense. They were landlords. Building owners who received fixed taxes. At this moment, the quiet Lee Gilyoung opened his mouth.
“Excuse me Hyung.”
“I want to go to the toilet.”
“Is it urgent?”
The timing was a bit unexpected. It was even more puzzling because Lee Gilyoung normally didn’t say something like this. Then I noticed that Lee Gilyoung was standing next to a blushing Yoo Sangah.
“...Excuse me, can I also go with you?”
At the moment, the image of Yoo Sangah and Jung Heewon securing secret necessities at Yaksu Station came to mind. I thought I knew what was going on. That kid Lee Gilyoung, he quickly noticed it first.
The boy overhead the conversation and said.
“You need to go up to the second underground floor for the toilet, but it won’t be easy to enter.”
“...Has something happened?”
“Yes. I think it is better to see directly...I’m going up to, would you like to go with me?’
I was the one who said it. Of course, it wasn’t to go to the bathroom. I had to go up and check a few things.
Recently, Yoo Jonghyuk’s movements were different from the ‘third regression’ that I knew. If so, I needed to be clear about the gap.
I went up to the third underground level with my friends, carrying Jung Heewon who was still unconscious.
“Oh, I heard that there were new faces. Have you come to see the rooms?”
A middle-aged man standing near the escalator for line 4 whistled. The boy shook his head and replied.
“Ah, I’m sorry. We are going upstairs...”
“Eh, too bad. Be careful.”
The middle-aged man waved his hands without hesitation. Yoo Sangah watched the middle-aged man moving away and asked.
“That, by the way... what exactly is the ‘room’? I don’t think it is the rooms that I know.”
“It is easy.”
The boy pointed to a square tile.
The tiles were also present on the platform of line 3. Green tiles that were 1 pyeong in size. Looking at the details, I saw something written in the air above the tile.
[Green Zone 0/1]
“The scenario name is ‘green zone’ and these tiles are called rooms.”
Near the tile, two men were fighting each other. They were fighting over the tile. It was Lee Hyunsung who asked this time.
“What is that? Why are those people fighting over it?”
The boy looked a bit reluctant. It was like talking to us would be a threat to his survival.
“You will know once you arrive at the second underground floor.”
As we climbed up to the higher floors, there were more fights over rooms. The room numbers were different. There were small rooms labelled (0/1) and large rooms labelled (0/7). The latter number was probably the capacity of the room.
I looked around carefully and asked, “The third underground floor to the first underground floor is all the area of the Landlord Association?”
“...Yes. There are small forces but the Landlord Association has obtained most of it.”
All the infrastructure of Chungmuro was located on the second and first underground floors, yet a single alliance occupied all of it.
“Yoo Jonghyuk didn’t take any action? Didn’t he save you?”
The boy’s face became noticeably darker at my question. The boy looked sullen for a while before barely being able to speak.
“He told us to stand on our own...”
I knew. Of course Yoo Jonghyuk would say something like this. Perhaps Yoo Jonghyuk never told them to follow him. They were fascinated by the overwhelming force that Yoo Jonghyuk showed and had hopeful dreams. How pitiful.
Not long after, we arrived at the second underground floor. There was tension on the boy’s face.
“We have to be careful from here onwards.”
There were much more rooms on B2 than the lower levels. The group of people fighting couldn’t be seen. Instead, people were guarding the green zones with scary eyes.
[Green Zone 7/7]
We passed by the people and headed towards the bathrooms.
“Uh...why stop here?”
Our pace stopped as we approached the last passage to the bathroom. Like a bottleneck, dozens of people were gathered in the passage.
“Let’s go forward.”
I spoke while pushing people out of the way.
“Pildu-ssi! Please accept it! I won’t do it again!”
“Please, please! Please let me stay one more day. I’ll go into debt to get the coins!”
The leader at the head of the line was facing the heated up people.
“Now now, back off. Back off.”
On the opposite side, people who seemed to be from the Landlord Association were gathered. I could instinctively feel it.
One of the 10 Evils was here. I tried to find the ‘10 Evils’ member through the novel’s description but it wasn’t easy since all of them seemed to fit.
Did their impressions became similar after becoming landlords?
I was shaking my head when someone grabbed my leg. It was Lee Gilyoung. I sensed something danger and was about to grab his shoulder when someone pushed Lee Gilyoung.
Lee Gilyoung lost his balance and fell down.
[The character ‘Lee Gilyoung’ has invaded private property!]
Suddenly, the atmosphere became cold and some of the ‘Landlord Association’ members in the front looked at Lee Gilyoung.
“What is this child?”
At almost the same time, the crowd of people screamed and withdrew.
As if they were never there, the crowd of people rushed back like the tide. The people disappeared and red lines shone where they used to be standing. One man looked between the boundary and Lee Gilyoung in turn.
“Hrmm. You seem to be lost. Do you know where this is?”
“The way to the bathroom?”
“The bathroom? Haha, at one time. By the way, that kid...where are your parents?”
“Didn’t you learn that you shouldn’t intrude on other people’s land?”
Other people’s land. Oh, it must be true.
The man stroked Lee Gilyoung’s head with an unknown look.
“You don’t know. From now on, I will teach you.”
[The character ‘Gong Pildu’ has activated ‘Armed Zone Lv. 3!]
There was a whirring sound and mini turrets resembling gatling guns rose from the ground.
[The character ‘Gong Pildu’ demands 500 coins for invading his private land.]
[If you don’t follow the recommendations, all nearby turrets will fire immediately.]
The man spoke.
“Give me money.”
The loaded turrets were all aiming at the same point. The confused Lee Gilyoung stood up and moved to my side. The man saw me and laughed.
“Ah, you are his guardian. Then shouldn’t the guardian pay 500 coins instead?”
I smiled at the hand that the man brazenly stretched out.
...How funny, Yoo Jonghyuk. You let these jerks go?
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