Book 2: Chapter 73
“This is the double’s patrol route.”
Lee Jong-hak pulled out a map of Zinga and pointed at a red line that was drawn on it. Then, he pointed at a spot on the map.
“And this is where we are right now. As you can see, there are a lot of abandoned buildings in this area, and there aren’t any people here.”
“It’s really eerie.”
Joanna looked around while saying this.
When she’d first entered Zinga, she saw many people walking along the various streets. But this place was desolate. It looked like it had been left unattended for decades.
“As I said earlier, there is a high chance that this is a trap.”
Despite his chilling words, Lee Jong-hak’s voice was calm.
This was quite strange.
His words should have brought some amount of tension, but his tone was calm, so those listening to him were also able to remain calm.
Moreover, everyone knew that he was right.
This was a trap.
It had already been about four days since Lee Jong-hak had killed Keegan and the other hunters.
It was likely that the Demons in the city had thoroughly searched the entire city in search of Lee Jong-hak but had been unable to find a single trace.
Nevertheless, they must have realised one thing.
That Lee Jong-hak was in the city for the Vampire Duke.
Therefore, they decided to have the Vampire Duke double patrol the city, making sure to visit abandoned and deserted locations. These locations were definitely the best for anyone who intended to launch an attack.
Since the Vampire Duke had locked down the city, they knew that Lee Jong-hak and the Gray Sun were still here.
Nevertheless, they still allowed the double to patrol the city and head to such places where there was a high likelihood of being attacked. This meant that it was a trap.
Despite realising this, Lee Jong-hak and Elijah didn’t back down.
One of the reasons for this was Joanna’s cooperation. After all, she was a 7 star Wizard, someone the Gray Sun had never been able to work with. With her there, they would be able to cope with the situation even if something unexpected happened.
Before long, a middle-aged man wearing an impressive suit and fedora appeared. On both sides of him were men with very large physiques who appeared to be bodyguards.
A fire lit within Lee Jong-hak’s eyes.
They had already run simulations of this operation countless times before making their move. It would be Lee Jong-hak who made the first move.
He estimated the distance to the double. He was still tens of meters away. It was not yet in Lee Jong-hak’s range.
So first of all, he had to wait. Wait for them to come a bit closer.
The first sense of strangeness came from his palms. Lee Jong-hak suddenly realised that his hand, which was gripping his sword, was covered in sweat.
Then, he felt a bead of cold sweat drip from his chin.
It was pressure.
A ridiculous pressure was pressing down on his entire body.
And this terrifying pressure came from none other than the ‘double’.
‘What’s… going on…?’
Just looking at him made it hard for him to breathe. And with every step closer that he took, his heart thumped heavily in his chest like it was about to explode.
Lee Jong-hak had faced Duke-level Demons before. After all, he’d been defeated at the hands of a Duke in Shanghai not so long ago.
The fear and pressure that he felt now was comparable to then.
No. In fact.
‘…it’s stronger than back then.’
It wasn’t just Lee Jong-hak who was shocked. The other hunters around him were also shaking and panting.
“What’s going on? What the hell….”
Lee Jong-hak couldn’t help but gulp slightly as he looked at the double in front of him.
Double… A double?
This man walking towards them.
‘Is he really a double?’
* * *
The 67th floor of the North America Headquarters, Pilsky Tower.
Min Ha-rin, who was drenched in sweat, panted heavily. She didn’t even have the energy to brush the hair that was sticking to her face away.
While swaying as though she would collapse at any moment, she stared at the man standing in front of her.
American Hunter Vincent J. Heider.
The personal tutor whom Neil Prand had assigned to Min Ha-rin and one of the few Magic Swordsmen in the region.
Of course, being a Magic Swordsman didn’t mean that he could use both magic and swordsmanship at the same time. After all, the danjeon and mana room were incompatible. One could only have one or the other.
Instead, Vincent could be classified as a ‘Wizard who trained his body’.
In truth, when they first met, Min Ha-rin had been very skeptical about his skills. There was only one reason for this. When he was introducing him, Neil’s attitude had been quite lackluster.
Shortly after Lukas left, Neil came to visit her. And after asking her a few trivial questions, he brought Vincent to her without any real consideration.
And all he said was a short sentence.
“Take care of this woman.”
Vincent had simply glanced at Min Ha-rin and nodded without any complaints.
“I already have a Master.”
Displeased, Min Ha-rin had said these words in a cold voice. What she wanted was just the renowned North American curriculum. She didn’t need someone to teach or guide her.
Vincent had responded in a blunt voice.
“I don’t consider you my disciple either. I don’t want to teach you. You simply have to fight me.”
“What and how much you get from our spars will depend entirely on your own capabilities.”
The sparring had begun that very afternoon, and it widened Min Ha-rin’s knowledge exponentially.
A being who used both magic and their own body.
A versatile profession with the perfect balance.
It was a very exhausting fighting style, but Vincent was able to perfectly bring out his full capabilities.
Showing 100% of your power was something that was easier said than done. Especially if you were focused on two areas at the same time instead of one.
With that in mind, the concentration that Vincent displayed in battle was amazing.
‘Maybe I should walk on a similar path.’
It was just a vague thought at the moment, but it still appeared in her mind.
“That’ll be all for today.”
Vincent looked down at his watch before speaking.
Their spars usually lasted from 30 minutes to an hour. This might have been short, but for Min Ha-rin, it felt even longer than the remaining 23 hours. It was a hellish time in which she felt intense pain that made her want to constantly give up.
But she wouldn’t just quit because of the pain she felt every time they fought.
Just as Min Ha-rin was going over the day’s spar in her head, the door to the hall opened and a man walked in.
It was a man with short, blonde hair, a large, muscular body, and a cold aura.
This was none other than Neil Prand, President of the Hunter Association.
When she first met this powerful man, Min Ha-rin couldn’t help but feel a bit intimidated, but after meeting him numerous times in a row, most of the initial surprise and intimidation faded.
‘It’s still pretty uncomfortable, though.’
Neil looked at Vincent and Min Ha-rin with his distinctive cold stare.
“It seems your spar has ended. Both of you, follow me.”
Min Ha-rin couldn’t help but look down at her body, which was covered in sweat, but Neil nodded coldly.
“Right. It’s especially important for you.”
Since he said it like that, it meant that she probably didn’t have a choice.
Discarding her plan to take a shower before eating and resting, Min Ha-rin rose from her seat.
After they all climbed onto the elevator, Neil pressed the button for the 180th floor. When this happened, Vincent’s expression briefly became strange. His eyes turned to glance at Min Ha-rin for a moment, but that was all. In the end, he kept his mouth closed.
The elevator opened, and Min Ha-rin was immediately made speechless.
What was revealed was a large, dark room that was filled with countless monitors. Each of the monitors was different, and so were the things displayed on them.
Min Ha-rin couldn’t hide her surprise.
The screens vividly displayed images of numerous cities. Not just those in North America but even those that were thousands of kilometers away.
Among them was Min Ha-rin’s hometown, Busan.
‘I thought most of humanity’s science and technology was lost…’
She couldn’t believe such high-tech equipment still existed.
Min Ha-rin gulped subconsciously.
She could hardly imagine how much power, technology, and information North America probably had.
“The floors from the 180th floor and up are called the Royal Floors. They are normally places to which only executives in North America are given access.”
That was probably why Vincent showed signs of discomfort. From his perspective, Min Ha-rin was an outsider.
It wasn’t just Vincent either.
While they moved around busily, many people looked at Min Ha-rin with curious or suspicious gazes. But they didn’t say anything because Neil was standing beside her.
After a short while, Neil led her to a monitor.
Only ominous sounds were being output from the monitor. Neil looked at this noisy monitor for a moment before speaking.
“When was the last time you saw Leo Freeman?”
Min Ha-rin tilted her head to the side at the sudden question. Moreover, the question was a bit strange.
But Neil’s gaze remained locked onto the screen. Vincent twitched slightly behind them as if to indicate that she should answer.
“…maybe about a week or so ago? He left around that time.”
Leo Freeman wasn’t in Manhattan at the moment.
At Neil’s judgement, her junior brother had left the city.
She didn’t know where exactly he went, but he had most likely gone to Canada.
There was only one reason for that.
Unlike Min Ha-rin, he hadn’t been able to get a good tutor who was staying in the North America Headquarters.
But why was Neil bringing up Leo’s name now?
“Have you ever heard of the Five Dukes?”
Dukes were called inescapable catastrophes and natural disasters by humans.
And among them, there was a group who was particularly strong.
It had been less than five years since the Hunter Association had learned of its existence.
Of course, this information was still confidential for ordinary hunters and civilians, but Min Ha-rin, who had once been a Titled Hunter, knew about them.
“I see. Then I’ll just say it bluntly. Leo Freeman is missing. And it’s likely that he is either captured or dead.”
“To be precise, most of the hunters from the Canada branch are in the same situation.”
“What are you talking about…?”
“…you will better understand after seeing it for yourself.”
At that moment, an image finally appeared on the monitor that had only been giving off strange sounds.
And when she saw what it displayed, Min Ha-rin’s eyes widened.