But right now the trio didn’t enter my eyes.
My hand curled into a fist without my knowing.
The Great Star, Colossus. I had seen it for myself and burned its image into my eyes.
But I couldn’t reach it. I might have reached it somehow, but time ran out and I came back to my own body. A body I could move naturally.
‘I think it said I awakened.’
There were a few ways to awaken, but the easiest was to make contact with a ‘gate’. However, I didn’t awaken through contact with a ‘gate’ but through possessing a ‘Demon Lord’.
Every now and then, there would be cases of people with crazy potentials awakening on their own, but chances of this happening was literally one in a million. There were no precedents of my case.
What was more surprising was that I had skills.
‘Skills appeared even though I didn’t obtain a class.’
Although I obtained them through the synchronization, they weren’t just any skills.
Mind’s Eye and Dominator!
These were Lv9 skills which was on an equal level to the innate magic of dragons. Even though they weren’t offensive types, they would doubtlessly prove helpful just by having them.
I spread out my hand and drew the mark of a cross.
[Updating user information.]
Name: Hansung Oh
Magic Power 10
Special note: Potential has greatly increased due to the influence of an unknown power.
Skill: Mind’s Eye(Lv9), Dominator(Lv9), Transfer(???)
It was short, but impactful.
I couldn’t not be surprised nor suppress the shock.
My status was slightly above the average adult male’s. However, the amount of my potential differed from the past.
‘My limit used to be 450.’
Potential indicated the maximum strength that a person could attain. Filling 450 potential was the most I could do even when I had become the last hero. No matter how much I struggled, I couldn’t go over that number. Yet it increased. An increase of ‘6’ wasn’t such a simple matter.
‘I had become stronger by consuming every kind of treasure in the world at the time. My current potential…I can’t even…’
A human with a potential greater than 450?
Statistically speaking, it was one in 10 million, so that meant there were only 600~700 of such people throughout the world. I myself wasn’t able to reach 450 in the beginning.
Precious medicines blessed by god, commonly known as miracle drugs.
My former potential was the result of madly consuming such medicines. Before that, I was stuck at 400. It was thanks to the magic swordsman’s fast rate of development that I caught the attention of the world’s government, and to groom me into a hero, they invested an unbelievable amount of resources in me.
That’s how it was…and yet.
I closed my eyes and opened them again, but I hadn’t seen wrong. The number was definitely 456.
The number that was definitely different from the past caused me to make an expression like my soul had escaped.
‘To think I’d get such numbers right after awakening.’
If I could sweep up treasures like I did in the past and increase my potential, it may just be the emergence of the first human ever to reach 500.
No, going even above that may be possible.
I had memories. I had information. I had plenty of time as well.
I broke out into cold sweats. Was I shivering? I might have been so tense that my body didn’t even shake. As if in compensation for this, the inside of my mouth was dry, and my eyes restlessly trembled.
‘I’ll reach them. I can reach them.’
Those monsters; Demon Lords!
Following that, I examined the added skills.
It was because of this Transfer skill that I could enter Uriel Diablo’s body. I tried using it again just in case it would work.
[2,880 minutes cooldown time remaining for ‘Transfer(???)’.]
I couldn’t use it.
My eyes immediately went to the cooldown time.
‘It’s the same as the amount of time I moved.’
I spent 2,880 minutes in Uriel Diablo’s body, and the cooldown time was the same as that. A ratio of 1:1 perhaps?
I breathed in deeply.
My quivering heart didn’t know how to calm down. It was beating madly, making it difficult to breathe.
One of the trio timidly spoke out.
‘Ahh. These guys were here.’
I was so absorbed in the more important matters that I forgot the trio in front of me.
I barely calmed down my excitement and reorganized my mind. Right after getting attacked by the golden red squirrel, I transferred, used up all my time, and came back. But when I opened my eyes, these men were here.
‘Something must have happened.’
There was no way they would be like this if nothing had happened.
‘Now that I think about it.’
I retraced my memories.
Right before transferring, the red squirrel charged towards me. At the same time, the ‘protection magic’ I got from Minshik had activated. A cyan protective shield materialized and blocked the red squirrel’s attack thereby safeguarding me.
Was that why I was being treated as a ‘mountain god’?
“Are you really a mountain god?”
Scarily enough, he took the question right out of my mind.
“I’m not a mountain god, but…”
I was about to speak before I stopped to ponder.
It would be a good thing for me if they misunderstood. There would be no way of explaining the protective shield if they thought of me as an ordinary person. Unnecessary suspicions would give rise to other rumours. It may be better off showing myself as a celestial being.
I sat up, taking proper poise, and spoke,
“You scoundrels. Whether this person is a mountain god or not, it’s clear that he’s an exalted being. Where’s your manners!”
The man largest among them scolded the other two. He must be the eldest hyung.
“So was it you three who looked after me?”
“Yes, it was. We moved the unconscious mountain god-nim here.”
Truthfully, the title didn’t matter that much.
The man was quite respectful. At the very least he didn’t seem to be without manners.
Rubbing my chin, I spoke,
“How much time has passed since I fell unconscious?”
“A day, exactly a day has passed.”
Indeed. The time spent in the abyss differed from the time spent here. Roughly 2:1. So a day in here roughly equaled two in the abyss.
I couldn’t help but ask,
“What happened to the golden red squirrel?”
“It ran away. It must have been frightened by mountain god-nim’s power.”
Seeing as he mentioned my power, he must have seen the cyan protective shield after all.
Still, it was a relief that they couldn’t catch it. When the mutated animal is caught and the ‘gate’ appears, after a day it would latch on to another animal. Then I would have to start from the beginning again.
I stared at the trio for a moment.
It must have been purely their faith in shamanism that spurred them to look after me, but they did save me even though they could have simply run away when the red squirrel was onto me. Following that they did their all and gathered grass to make a place for me to rest.
They were good people at heart.
I did feel a slight jab of guilt. To think I used these kinds of people as bait to lure the red squirrel.
Although I could quietly pass over it like nothing, it was my belief that what I’ve received, I should return, whether it be grudges or favors. I had resolved to do what I could to survive, but I was a former hero after all. I haven’t thrown away that bit of dignity in me yet.
‘Good people are worth protecting just for the virtue of being good.’
In a world full of evil, the good people died first and foremost.
Preventing such a world to come about again was the least I could do.
“I would like to reward you all for looking after me…perchance, do you have paper and ink stone?”
“Though I have no inkstone, I do have a pen…”
I expected that. There was no way people would be carrying around ink stones in these modern times.
I only asked to sound the part.
“Then that will do.”
The eldest looking one among the trio rummaged inside his pocket, taking out a yellow notepad and a pen.
“Here it is.”
“Is there no larger paper than this?”
“This notepad is all I have.”
I clicked my tongue in my mind because the paper size was too small. Rune characters were hard to recognize in the first place, and to make matters worse, I could only write one tiny character. With bad handwriting like mine, it would turn out to look like a child’s scribbles.
If there ever was a bad handwriting contest held somewhere in the world, I was confident to be a prizewinner. Thankfully, I could be relieved that no one but myself needed to recognize this character.
I casually drew a rune character on a yellow note using the pen. The letters were arranged like worms, overlapping horizontally and vertically before connecting. It was the epitome of terrible handwriting. Even if someone who knew rune characters saw this, they would consider it as scribbles for an obnoxious prank!
“Take it. You must never lose it.”
“Wha-, what is this?”
“My gift. If ever a great trouble befalls you, write your name in this empty space and stick it on your front door.”
“Ah! It must be a talisman!”
The trio all stared at the yellow note with strange glints in their eyes.
The letters within the paper soon began to emit light.
“Li-, light from the character!”
Their eyes went round from the surprise.
But that was all. They merely believed it to be the powers of a mountain god, unable to realize how incredible of a thing this was.
[‘User’s ‘provisional contract’ has been completed.]
[It is a contract with the user ‘Hansung Oh’s’ name written on it. If the contractor so wishes, user ‘Hansung Oh’ must help the contractor once within his ability and conscience.]
[If the contract is not abided by, the user will inflicted with the ‘Curse of Magic Power’.]
It was a contract made by the awakened.
The ‘Curse of Magic Power’ inflicted upon going against the contract impaired one’s magic power and slowed down their rate of development. Magic power was the most important stat among all, so as long as it was reasonable, the contract basically had to be obliged no matter what.
Of course, it didn’t matter if you ignored requests outside your ability.
But this was a contract with my name, Hansung Oh, written on it. Something that couldn’t be bought with a thousand gold, nor ten thousand gold!
If it was before my return to the past, there would have been people willing to fork over an entire city just to earn that slip of paper. Not even a lottery could compare.
A moment later, when the light on the note faded, one of the trio tentatively asked,
“But mountain god-nim. Is this one slip all? It was three of us that looked after you.”
“Don’t bite off more than you can chew.”
It appeared they believed that the talisman would really work. Following the display of this ‘wonder’, the suspicion in their eyes disappeared. I imagined they thought of me as a mountain god or, at the very least, an extremely skilled shaman.
At any rate, giving out another was impossible. If it were regular talismans I would hand over several, but this was a contract with my name on it. To be frank, just one was already too much.
When I clasped my hands behind my back and postured, the man could only pout.
Groaning in reluctance, the man spoke again. “Then Hyung-nim should take it. I don’t need it.”
“Me too. Aren’t you going to use it for that child anyway?”
It seemed to have ended up going to the eldest hyung.
He stared for a moment at the yellow note handed over to him, then nodded his head as if having resolved upon something.
“There’s a child I think of as my own daughter. She caught a rare disease, and I feel regret that she can only lie in a sickbed. She’s at the age where she should be prancing about, trying make-up, experiencing love…I want to cure that child.”
“You’ll use it not for yourself but for that child?”
“Yes. I’ve lived long enough after all.”
I could feel his sincerity.
How unexpected that he would use a wish for someone else; it was someone who wasn’t his real daughter, but a child of another’s household no less. I couldn’t believe that someone so pure would go poaching. So I asked with a nagging suspicion,
“So then you tried catching the golden red squirrel for a similar reason?”
“It was half the reason. That child is so kind as to gift a flower even to a beggar like me. But because our appearances are like this…the child’s parents very much dislike us. I hoped that if we could earn some money and took on a more respectable appearance, we could repay her kindness…”
It seemed like there was a deep story behind their circumstances.
But it wasn’t possible at the moment. I would need at least several months to obtain the kinds of medicines that cured all kinds of diseases and forcefully reconnected severed nerves. And that was under the assumption of my plans going smoothly.
If I was requested to help with that immediately, then it wouldn’t matter if I didn’t oblige due to it being ‘out of my capability’. But I was in a situation where I had already told them I would help, even to the point of writing up a contract.
I spoke gravely,
“For that talisman to take effect, it must be kept on one’s body for at least 3 months, and it must not be taken off for even a moment.”
“Ah…The-, then truly 3 months is all it takes?”
“It will be so if your sincerity is strong enough to even reach the heavens. However.”
Following that I put on a serious countenance.
A favor was a favor, but I had to make things clear.
“If you commit a sin during that period, the effect will disappear. You three have greatly sinned on the mountain. Unnecessary bloodshed thus, will inevitably disrupt the balance of righteousness. From now on you must live a life of helping others, cherishing lives.”
“I swear it and will do as told.”
“Since you have sworn so, then immediately descent the mountain.”
“Uh…but what about the golden red squirrel…?”
“That thing isn’t a spiritual animal like you believe it to be. That being is an evil spirit that disturbs the world and a subject for my punishment.”
“S-, so it was like that after all.”
He kept nodding his head as if having understood.
It wasn’t possible for a spiritual animal to appear so strange and violent. That aggressiveness and ill-intent was definitely similar to an evil spirit.
While I stood still in wait, hands clasped behind my back, they started packing their things without any needless words, preparing to go down the mountain.
Having finally finished their preparation, they kowtowed to me.
“Mountain god-nim, I wish you a long life.”
“I wish you a long life as well.”
I gently waved them goodbye with my right hand, and they began moving their feet down the mountain.
I quietly watched their receding figures.
‘Indeed, you shouldn’t judge a person by their looks.’
Who would have known that those folks who looked so much like bandits would be so pure inside.
A while after the figures of the trio completely disappeared from sight, I erased the grave expression I’d been making all the while.
‘Now, the hindrances are gone.’
All that was left was to confront the golden red squirrel.
The trio who had been hunting the golden red squirrel were sent down the mountain, so now I just had to take my sweet time in pursuing the thing. From last time’s assault, I could more or less figure out where its nest was.
‘It’s a good day.’
Does good luck come in droves the way bad luck does?
I gained unbelievable power due to awakening at an unexpected time, and in an unexpected place, I met a trio of rather fine men. I could feel the depression I had been feeling lighten; failing to reach the colossus with the Demon Lord’s body had been bothering me. And now I was about to achieve the objective I had for coming to Mt Bukhan in the first place.
Perhaps the golden red squirrel would present me an unexpected gift as well.
The sky was bright, with not a speck of cloud.
I hummed a song as I went on my way with confident strides.