The Frozen Player Returns - Chapter 72
“Hey! Anna!” Torres turned to Anna as he watched Marco run toward them.
“Do you know him?”
“…He’s the leader of the family I was part of.” Anna stared at the ground, her voice devoid of life.
“Tsk, it’s an important day.” Torres clicked his tongue. Then, he looked around and slipped into an alley.
“Anna! Anna!” Marco called out to her as he followed them. He blinked when he saw Torres smiling brightly.
“Who are you and why are you calling out for her?”
“H-hello! I’m Marco. I’m Anna’s older brother…”
“Ah, so you’re Marco? I’ve heard a lot about you. Isn’t that right, Anna?”
“…” Even at Torres’ question, Anna didn’t look up from the ground.
“…She seems a little strange. Is she sick?” When Marco asked worriedly, Torres patted Anna’s shoulder.
“Of course not. Anna’s just tired because she just woke up. Isn’t that right?”
“Haha. Anna, it’s been a while since you’ve seen your family, so you should greet him with a smile.”
“A smile…” Her empty eyes suddenly filled with life. She grabbed Marco’s hands and jumped up and down as if nothing had happened. “Kyaa! Marco oppa! How long has it been? Two months?”
“Yeah, how have you been?” Marco smiled when he saw the Anna that he knew.
“Yup! Paradise is great. The teachers are really nice and the food is really yummy! And can you see how clean my clothes are?”
“I have eyes, you know! It looks really new. I’m glad you’re doing well.” Marco’s doubts started to fade away.
“Are Max and the others doing okay? Does Pierre still cry a lot?”
“It’s the same as always. Pierre cries a lot because he misses you.”
“Geez, that crybaby… If only I could come out more often, I could see them.”
Marco shook his head. “No. We’re happy as long as you’re happy. I’ll tell the kids that you’re doing well.”
Torres cut off their conversation. “Marco, did you tell your siblings that you’re coming here?”
“Huh? No. They’re still sleeping.”
“…Really?” Torres’ lip curled upward. He held out his hand to Marco. “In that case…”
“Oh, there you are!”
Torres quickly pulled his hand back. He wrinkled his nose when he saw a man entering the alley.
‘Sunglasses with a mask and cap?’
The strange man with his face completely covered walked over to them, holding an umbrella.
“At least tell me where you’re going. Why’d you run off alone?”
“Oh…sorry. I was just excited to see Anna.”
Torres cut in. “And you are…?”
“Oh, I’m a tourist. My name’s Sonny. I hired this guy to be my local guide.”
“Sonny…I see. My name is Torres.”
Seo Jun-Ho’s eyes sparkled when he heard the name.
‘He has guts. He’s telling me his real name.’
He was probably confident that he wouldn’t get caught.
Seo Jun-Ho held out his hand. “Nice to meet you, Torres.”
“Yes, it’s nice to meet you, Mr. Sonny.” After shaking hands, Torres looked down at his hand and then at Seo Jun-Ho as he asked, “Are you a Player? You’ve got quite a grip.”
“Wow, how did you know? That’s right. I’m actually level 27.” Seo Jun-Ho puffed out his chest as if he was boasting.
“I see, level 27. You must be an excellent Player.”
“Yeah, people call me a genius all the time, and… I probably am.”
“Ah…I see.” Torres smiled, but he was snorting on the inside. He had already made his evaluation.
‘So he’s level 27…I can tell.’
He could kill him with one finger. Just as he was about to stop paying attention…
Seo Jun-Ho drew his attention. “Oh, Marco. Is this the person from Paradise?”
“Yeah. Anna’s doing really well there. It’s a great place.”
“…Wait, didn’t you say you’re a tourist? How do you know about Paradise?” Torres was smiling, but there was suspicion in his eyes.
“I heard from this guy. It’s a long story, is that alright?”
“Please, go ahead.” Seo Jun-Ho grinned. “Was it 15 years ago? My one and only little brother…Oh, he’s two years younger than me, but he was a little taller. I was stronger though, so I would always win when we wrestled…”
“Excuse me, can you summarize it?” Torres was getting annoyed at his rambling.
“Tsk. I was just getting to the good part…Anyways, I believe that my brother is at Paradise.”
“He shouldn’t be. We don’t have any adult men at the moment.”
“Probably, but he would’ve been there in the past. You have records, right? I want to take a look.”
“…” They didn’t. All the children that went to the orphanage were either killed or had long become fiends. Torres did the calculations in his head.
‘This isn’t good.’
If he sent the man back like this, Paradise’s existence might be revealed to the world. People wouldn’t believe orphaned pickpockets, but they might listen to a Player.
“…Alright. Let’s go to Paradise together. But may I ask you something first?”
“What is it?”
“You haven’t told anyone else about Paradise, have you?”
“Of course not. No one even knows I’m in Rome.” Seo Jun-Ho said what Torres wanted to hear, and he relaxed.
“Good. I will take you there.”
“Goodness, weren’t you going somewhere?”
“…My appointment’s been canceled.” He looked at Marco. “You should come as well.”
“Huh? I have to feed the kids though.”
“Don’t you want to see your other younger siblings? It will only take about two hours.”
“Oh, if it’s only two hours…” Marco nodded slowly. He wanted to see their faces. “I’ll go. It’s raining, so they’ll just sleep anyway.”
“Let us be on our way.” Torres started to lead them away, and the Frost Queen clicked her tongue.
“Contractor, what is your plan? I believe that man wishes to kill you and the child.” Just as the Frost Queen said, Torres’ intentions were obvious. He was planning to bring them to Paradise and get rid of them there. It was the simplest solution to this conundrum.
Seo Jun-Ho waited for Torres to go ahead. “Anyone could have that kind of cold intention,” he whispered.
That was until… they were hit first.
“…Wow.” Marco marveled at the estate beyond the gate. “Is that Paradise?”
“Haha, yes. Isn’t it quite big?”
The playground was full of all sorts of equipment. Slides, see-saws, slides, a soccer field, a basketball court.
“When it’s not raining, it’s full of kids.”
“They must love it here.”
“But of course. This is Paradise, after all.” Torres smiled and opened the gate. They passed by the playground and approached a large building.
“Wow. Is this where they live?”
“Living quarters, classrooms, the cafeteria, and even the baths are here.”
“Where are my other siblings?”
“They are in the lecture hall.” He turned to Seo Jun-Ho. “I will show you the records after I show him around.”
“Right this way.” Torres escorted them down the hall as he explained Paradise’s history. “This year is the 20th anniversary of Paradise’s founding.”
“It must have a deep history.”
“Ah, yes. Paradise has produced many outstanding individuals.”
“Really? Who?” Seo Jun-Ho suddenly asked.
Torres paused at the question; the Frost Queen cackled at the sight. “He looks like a deer caught in headlights. Of course, he cannot tell you. They are all evil fiends, after all.”
Torres laughed awkwardly and continued. “Well, most of them don’t like others to know that they are orphans. I don’t have their permission to reveal their identities.”
“No need to tell me, then.”
“Thank you for understanding.” Torres bowed to him. As he took the lead again, he looked disgusted.
‘Dammit, I can’t believe that I had to bow to this insect!’
But his humiliation wouldn’t last for long. He had already ordered his subordinates to check that no one was tailing them once they entered Paradise. If no one was following the two men, he would kill them immediately.
“How many children are here?”
“You remember the exact number?”
“They are all like my own children.”
‘That’s bullshit,’ Seo Jun-Ho thought.
He stopped and looked into the window of the lecture hall. “What are they doing?”
They stood in two lines, facing each other with sharp weapons. They emanated a strong sense of bloodlust.
“Haha, they’re training hard to become Players.”
“Director!” A teacher came running toward them from the opposite end of the hallway and whispered something into Torres’ ear.
“It’s all clear. We even searched the warehouses, but he’s alone.”
“…Is that so?” Torres smiled like he had remembered something funny and opened the door to the hall. “Won’t you impart some of your wisdom on the children as a sunbae?”
“Me? I’m not that good…”
“I’m sure it will help them a lot.”
“Well, if you say so…” Seo Jun-Ho scratched his head and nodded. Torres led him inside and clapped his hands.
“Attention, everyone! Please welcome… what was your name?”
“Please welcome Mr. Sonny. He is an active Player, and he’s come to teach you some things as your sunbae.” He gave a look to the teacher, who quickly escorted the children to the benches. At the same time, dozens of men and women entered through the doors of the lecture rooms, carrying sharp weapons.
“…Hey, don’t you think there’s something weird?” Marco asked from behind Seo Jun-Ho, gulping. The latter glanced back at him. “As I thought, you’re quick. You’d make a good Player,” he muttered.
“What?” Marco couldn’t quite hear him.
One of the teachers slowly walked up to Seo Jun-Ho. His eyes were red as if they would start dripping blood at any second.
“F-fuck! H-his eyes are red?!” Marco cursed. He quickly shut his mouth after looking around. The 200 children and 30 teachers all had red eyes. “I-if their eyes are red…”
“It means they’re fiends.”
Torres smiled from his seat in the audience. “You’re unlucky. This wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t mentioned Paradise in front of me.”
“…Did you feed the children the demon clan’s blood?”
Torres shrugged, spreading his arms. “What do you think? How else would they become fiends?”
Seo Jun-Ho let out a shaky breath. All these young children had become fiends, and most likely, none of them were willing to become one.
“They must have not wanted to become fiends.”
“Of course not. But once some of them were killed as examples, they were practically begging to drink the demon clan’s blood.” As if he had remembered something fun, Torres clapped his hands and laughed with his shoulders shaking. “Oh, you should have been there! It was hilarious! They were licking the blood off the ground…Hahahaha! They were so desperate to live.”
“…Wait, what?” With a dumbfounded expression, Marco pushed Seo Jun-Ho aside. He looked to the benches, looking for familiar faces.
Anna, Finn, Leo, Shu…
“No…no…This can’t be…” Their faces were lifeless, and their eyes burned red like the others. Marco fell to his knees, crying. “I-I sent them off…I pushed them forward with my own hand…”
Anna cried because she didn’t want to leave her sisters and brothers.
Finn complained that Max would become the vice-leader if he left.
Leo and Shu, the youngest.
He had sent them off with his own hands. Marco simply wanted them to be happy.
“But…how…?” How did they become fiends? Why were they staring at him with those red eyes?
“Urp…Bleeeghh!” He felt sick. He saw stars.
After throwing up, Marco slowly picked himself up.
“You bastard…!” Before Seo Jun-Ho could stop him, Marco ran toward Torres but his body flew into the air. One of the teachers had punched him in the stomach. Marco curled up on the floor, vomiting again.
“Hahaha! Look at him squirming like an insect!” Torres gestured toward Anna. “That’s your brother. What do you think?”
“…” She stared down at the groaning Marco on the floor. “I…do not think of anything.”
“Kahahahaha! This is hilarious!” Torres laughed until he cried.
Marco couldn’t overcome his anger and pounded the ground with his fists. His skin was starting to peel and bleed, but he did not stop. He felt pathetic. He couldn’t even get revenge for his siblings. Despite promising that he would take care of his family, he had forced them to come to such a place.
“You…” He glared up at Torres, eyes full of venom. “Specter-nim will kill you all.”
“Specter? That’s a name I haven’t heard in a while.”
Once upon a time, Torres had looked up to Specter. He once shone like a star, and normal Players like himself could never even hope to reach him.
“Too much time has passed.”
25 years had passed. It was more than enough time for Specter’s glory to fade.
“Even if Specter is back, there is no fiend that is afraid of him.” It was true. Not even Torres himself was scared. He was level 75 and had gotten stronger as a fiend. He was confident that he could defeat Specter.
“You… Once Specter-nim comes for you…” Rather than fear, Marco trembled in frustration.
Seo Jun-Ho approached him. “It hurts a lot, doesn’t it?”
“Are you seriously asking me that right now…”
“Once you become a Player, you’ll experience things even more painful than this.”
Seo Jun-Ho took off his coat and placed it on top of Marco. “Even if your loved ones die right before your eyes, you have to keep fighting. That is what a Player is.”
“…?” Marco wiped away his tears with his sleeve. But once he started crying, he couldn’t stop.
“If you really want to become a Player, then you must raise your sword even before an enemy you cannot defeat.”
Marco looked at Seo Jun-Ho like he was speaking nonsense. Even if they disregarded the children, the fiends alone numbered over 30. Trying to fight them would be suicide.
“You’re telling me to fight them right now?”
“If you’re a Player, then you must. But you haven’t quite become one yet, so…” Seo Jun-Ho took off his sunglasses, mask, and his cap. “I’ll help you out this time.”
He reached out into the air. Something appeared in his hand. It was a simple black mask. There were no symbols or words written on it. It was just a simple mask but it was the most famous mask in the world.
“All fiends that I encounter will be strangled. ” Seo Jun-Ho whispered as he fastened his mask. The darkness around him started to undulate. He looked up at the fiends in a final warning. “That way, their corpses will remain.”
Specter’s voice rang in the lecture hall.