The Player that Can’t Level Up - Chapter 41
You are reading The Player that Can’t Level Up Chapter 41 at NovelCake.
Since the association president invited him, Gi-Gyu knew there was a chance Tae-Shik might join them. However, eating in Tae-Shik’s apartment and seeing the mighty president in an apron was definitely out of his expectation.
The president said to Gi-Gyu, “Why are you just standing there? Come on in.”
“Ah, of course. Excuse me… Pfft!” When Gi-Gyu entered the apartment, he couldn’t stop himself from bursting into laughter. Wearing an apron and rubber gloves, Tae-Shik was washing the dishes in the kitchen.
The president explained, “You arrived a little earlier than I expected. I apologize for the mess. Could you have a seat and wait for a minute? I just found out that Oh Tae-Shik has been treating his house like a pigsty.”
“I would love to help,” offered Gi-Gyu as he pulled up his sleeves. But the president shook his head and replied, “Not a chance. You’re our guest. I’m already mortified that I invited you to such a messy place; I could never make you help us clean. I’m making dinner right now, so please give us a minute.”
The elderly man returned to the kitchen and continued to make Korean soybean paste soup. It was surreal watching the association president make dinner for Gi-Gyu. What was even shocking was the aroma wafting from the stew. Was he the association president or a chef?
“Hahaha…” Tae-Shik was busy vacuuming the living room. When his eyes met Gi-Gyu’s, the big man laughed awkwardly.
Gi-Gyu whispered, “This is very refreshing.”
“Haa… That old man is so annoying. It’s normal for a man’s house to be a little messy.” When Tae-Shik made an excuse, Gi-Gyu replied, “But my mom wouldn’t like a messy house like this.”
Suddenly, Tae-Shik began to vacuum faster. He was at one time a famous high ranker, so when Tae-Shik put his mind to it, his whole house sparkled even before the dinner was ready.
“See? I knew you could do it. Gosh… Now, we can eat,” the president, now satisfied, announced with a smile.
On the dining table was a bowl of Korean soybean paste stew, kimchi, and steamed rice. It was a very simple meal.
The president explained, “I know there isn’t much to eat, but I can guarantee you it tastes great. I hope you enjoy it.”
“I hate to admit it, but this old man can really cook, Gi-Gyu.” When Tae-Shik agreed, the association president smacked his head with a spoon.
“Hey! Why would you hit me with a spoon like that?!”
“You sounded so stupid that I didn’t realize I was hitting someone’s head! How dare you speak to your father like that?!” When the president shouted, Gi-Gyu blinked in shock.
“W-wait!” Tense and confused, Gi-Gyu looked back and forth between Tae-Shik and the association president. Then, he murmured, “Y-you do resemble each other!”
Gi-Gyu hadn’t paid much attention before, but now that he studied them carefully with his sharpened eyes, he could see the resemblance.
Tae-Shik wondered out loud, “Huh? Haven’t I told you before?” He tilted his head and said, “This old man is my father.”
Clicking his tongue, the president asked Gi-Gyu, “Didn’t he tell you about me, Young Man?”
“No, Sir.” Gi-Gyu put his spoon down, still unable to process this new information. He had always known Tae-Shik was a great man. After all, he was a pioneer, a ranker, a high ranker, and now the association’s general manager. Tae-Shik carried many admirable and shocking titles, but this was the most astonishing one of them all.
Tae-Shik was the association president’s son.
“Hyung… So you were born with a diamond spoon in your mouth, huh?” Gi-Gyu whispered. In the minds of many, the association president of a country was even more powerful than that country’s president. And there was a simple reason behind this: The association president had authority over players.
Unlike a country’s president, whom the people elected, the president of the Global Players Association selected the president for each association branch in every country. The public respected the person in this position even more than their country’s president.
And Tae-Shik was this great man’s son.
“But you always knew how amazing I am, didn’t you?” Tae-Shik teased Gi-Gyu
“Let’s just eat first. We’ll have plenty of time to chat later,” the president announced.
“Of course, Sir,” Gi-Gyu replied respectfully. He was a little more cautious with how he spoke now that he knew this man was not only the association president but also Tae-Shik’s father.
Noticing how nervous Gi-Gyu looked, Tae-Shik said kindly, “Don’t be so anxious. You’ll get sick if you eat while you’re nervous.”
Their meal began. Just like the president and Tae-Shik claimed, the Korean soybean paste soup tasted great. The dinner was also surprisingly pleasant. Contrary to Gi-Gyu’s worries, the president didn’t bring up any heavy topics. The elderly man actually seemed much more excited about criticizing his son.
“You have no idea what a troublemaker this bastard was.”
“He’s living all alone as an old bachelor, so why won’t he let me live with him?”
“When I talk to you about this jerk of a son, I feel like I’m talking with my grandson, Young Man.”
It seemed that the president had many pent-up emotions against his son. It was clear he enjoyed grumbling about Tae-Shik to Gi-Gyu. After the meal, the president brought out some tea for everyone.
“Now, shall we get to the main business?” the president asked.
“Yes, of course.” When Gi-Gyu replied, the association president smiled and introduced himself.
“Let’s start from the beginning. My name is Oh Tae-Gu, and I am the current president of the association’s Korean branch.”
Then, President Oh Tae-Gu—possibly the most powerful man in Korea—offered his hand to Gi-Gyu.
“It sounds like you got much help from Tae-Shik,” Oh Tae-Gu murmured.
“Yes, the general manager has helped me a great deal.” When Gi-Gyu agreed, the association president smiled proudly. But his face quickly tensed as he added, “But it’s also true that you were always only on the receiving end.”
“I am well aware of that.”
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“Tsk.” Oh Tae-Gu clicked his tongue as he rubbed his white beard. The association president probably warned Tae-Shik to keep quiet beforehand, as sipping his tea silently was all he did during this conversation. Since Tae-Shik didn’t seem worried, Gi-Gyu knew whatever the elderly man wanted to say wasn’t harmful.
The president continued, “Tae-Shik may claim he was the one who helped you, but he can’t do all that with his power alone. He definitely used his authority as the general manager to help you, so you have to admit that it was partly the association that aided you—”
“I must disagree there, Sir. Everything General Manager Oh Tae-Shik did to help me was his own doing. He might’ve used his authority in the association to help, but since he reached this position on his own, I believe he’s the one who helped me, not your organization.” When Gi-Gyu replied confidently, Oh Tae-Gu didn’t seem upset. He looked interested and murmured, “What a daring young man.”
Gi-Gyu continued, “I know I’m being shameless, but I do not consider myself indebted to the association. I owe everything to the general manager, no, Tae-Shik hyung.”
“Didn’t I tell you, Old Man? This boy is going to be big,” Tae-Shik chimed proudly. Nodding, Oh Tae-Gu asked Gi-Gyu, “But you aren’t expecting to continue receiving this kind of help, right? What Tae-Shik has done for you is already over the top. And it was surely beyond what he could do for you on his own.”
Gi-Gyu nodded and replied, “I do not expect any more help from him. I already have so much debt I need to repay.”
Tae-Gu’s eyes became serious as he offered, “But I would like you to keep receiving help.”
Gi-Gyu listened without a word as Tae-Gu continued, “But not in Tae-Shik’s name anymore; I want you to receive the association’s help.”
“I do not want that.” Gi-Gyu was firm in his answer. He explained, “If I’m under some organization, I will be bound by its limitations. I do not want that for myself, Sir.”
“I won’t beat around the bush. So let me put it to you straight; I don’t want you to join the association.”
“Then?” Gi-Gyu asked with curiosity. He thought the president was offering this assistance with the prerequisite that he would have to work for the association. However, it seemed the elderly man had a different idea.
Tae-Gu elaborated, “I’m very interested in you. My curiosity began because of Tae-Shik’s involvement, and what I found about you was fascinating. A player who couldn’t level up worked as a guide for five years; then, he suddenly began smashing through multiple levels like they were nothing. I heard you even entered the Maze of Heryond and came out in one piece.”
“I did.” Gi-Gyu didn’t bother denying this. After all, Tae-Gu was the association president: He had to have eyes everywhere.
“So you survived the Maze of Heryond, and you and your mother—”
“Please don’t get my mother involved,” Gi-Gyu whispered as his eyes turned cold. Suddenly, a violent aura flooded Tae-Shik’s living room. Clicking his tongue, Tae-Gu explained, “Tsk… I didn’t put surveillance on your family or anything. I was just very invested in your mother’s cure, which is the only reason why I know what happened.”
“Why were you interested in my mother’s health, President?” Gi-Gyu asked.
“You can ask Tae-Shik about that later.”
As Gi-Gyu calmed down, the violent aura began dissipating. The elderly man grumbled, “Such hot temper. You’re just like Tae-Shik in that area. Anyway, I hear you got two elixir bottles in the maze. You took one too, didn’t you?”
“I find you very interesting. I wonder what your secret is. Well, I suppose it doesn’t matter. What’s important is that you’re a talented player, and you will become even stronger as time passes. That is why I want to invest in you.”
Tae-Gu took a sip of his tea before placing his cup on the table. He continued, “The association will never ask you to obey its orders. All we ask in return is for you to agree to some favors from time to time. Think of it as a request. There will, of course, be appropriate rewards when you complete these requests. On top of it, the association will do its best to take care of your well-being and growth.”
“Yes, requests. I…” Oh Tae-Gu’s wrinkled face crumpled into a smile as he paused. The current bright smile on the elderly man’s face made him look like a young man in his 20s.
“I would like you to become our hired soldier.”
“Hyung, your father… I just don’t understand what the president must be thinking.” Gi-Gyu wondered after Tae-Gu left. He claimed he had much work to finish at the office. After the president was gone, Tae-Shik told Gi-Gyu he took the day off, so he was free. In the end, Gi-Gyu stayed behind to chat with Tae-Shik.
Of course, the main topic was Gi-Gyu becoming the association’s hired soldier.
Gi-Gyu muttered, “A hired soldier?! That’s such a vague term. He’s saying I won’t belong to the association, but he’ll still give me all the benefits even though I’ll be an outsider. I just don’t understand what he wants from me.”
“Don’t overthink it,” replied Tae-Shik as he brought two cups of instant coffee. It seemed he didn’t like the tea Tae-Gu made for them earlier. Tae-Shik explained, “That old man likes you just like I do. He recognizes a great player when he sees one. I think he wants to help you, but there is a limit to how much he can do for you as an individual.”
When Gi-Gyu nodded, Tae-Shik continued, “So he’s trying to make an excuse to help you as much as possible. The association has several hired soldiers on retainer already. They are all great players.”
“I can’t tell you the identities of these players since it’s a top secret known only to the most important members of the association,” explained Tae-Shik.
“I think I can make a few educated guesses.”
Tae-Shik smiled and added, “Anyway, you’ll get to be at the same level as those great players. All you have to do is receive all the help you can get and accept only the requests you like. I didn’t think this was a bad offer, so I didn’t say anything earlier.”
“I know, but I still don’t understand one thing.” Gi-Gyu looked confused as he asked, “Why is he helping me? I don’t think your father is the type to help someone just because he likes that person. And you said there are many other hired soldiers working for the association. So what is the president’s real reason for helping me and those other soldiers?”
“Well”—Tae-Shik emptied his cup—“our enemy is too strong.”
Tae-Shik looked straight into Gi-Gyu’s eyes as he continued, “From your recent experience, we have learned how powerful the devils, the Tower, the gates, and the other foreign guilds are. They are much stronger than we expected. For now, it may look like everyone wants to keep the peace, but trouble can arise at any time. My father wants to prepare for such a time. He’s trying to secretly commission as many hired soldiers as possible while strengthening the Korean association. He’ll try his best to make the Korean branch follow the right path, and…”
After contemplating the correct term, Tae-Shik finished his explanation, “He wants a secret weapon: A secret weapon that can defeat our enemies. However, before agreeing to anything, you’ve to understand something. My father uses the association’s power to provide a safe environment for all his hired soldiers, which helps them grow faster. It won’t be easy for you to refuse his requests if you become his hired soldier.”
“But, this also doesn’t mean you’ll become a slave to his command. There will be no penalties even if you refuse his request. You can even refuse to receive any and all requests if you wish.”
Scratching his head, Tae-Shik added, “But what you have to understand is my old man owns the unholy trifecta: Cold, cunning, and calculating.”
Now, Gi-Gyu had much to think about, so he chatted with Tae-Shik late into the night before taking the cab back home.
A week had passed since the dinner, and Gi-Gyu used that time to organize his thoughts regarding his complicated situation. The main thing he needed to decide was whether to accept Tae-Gu’s offer.
Gi-Gyu thought about the pros and cons of becoming a hired soldier. He also contemplated what he wanted for himself in the future. Was Tae-Gu’s offer going to help Gi-Gyu achieve what he wanted?
After much thought, Gi-Gyu entered Tae-Shik’s office and announced, “I’ll do it.”
Gi-Gyu had researched all the information he had gathered until now. Based on what he knew, the answer was obvious: Gi-Gyu had to accept the association president’s offer.