The iron gates on the walls surrounding the plaza opened and some alien creature squirmed through. A man with particularly good sight spoke with uncertainty.
“Is that a mantis?”
The man’s guess was correct. However, there was no way that something as simple as that would appear in the Blanche plaza. What had really appeared was a man-eating mantis, standing at the height of an adult male. There was a swarm of them numbering in the hundreds.
“Now! Trashy humans! Weapons are going to start appearing. Pick one! Fight… or run! If you don’t do either… kekeke! You can just let yourself be eaten!”
The homunculi began dancing as they taunted them. The crowd still stood frozen in uncertainty, but Sungchul was different. With callous eyes, he patiently waited for the arrival of the weapons. A worn blade suddenly appeared in the air.
< Blade of Beginnings >
Grade: Common – Lowest Grade
Note: Wield and fight. Die. Or Kill.
“It has been a while since I’ve used a blade.”
He had been solely using his hammer for quite a while now. This didn’t mean he couldn’t use a blade. Sungchul’s mastery level with a blade was at the Master rank. It fell short of the ‘greatest’ ranking of Grand Master, but it wouldn’t be wrong to say he was humanity’s strongest swordsman.
Sungchul hid amidst the rumbling crowd and observed the transparent beings that were meandering above their heads. They were transparent, but their bloodshot eyes clearly were of a summoner’s. Most people wouldn’t be able to notice it under its invisibility spell, but such illusion spells were just parlor tricks to Sungchul.
‘That must be the Observer’s eye. Did they already start filtering people out?’
Sungchul could see a large observation tower above the walls surrounding the plaza. The bastards who held power in this part of the world were sitting in that tower. They were watching through the Observer’s eye for any seeds or ‘special talents’ they could nurture. But at this point, it was still too early for them to tell, so they were mostly just watching the people who had a relation to the higher ups.
As if on cue, the Observer’s eye focused on those special individuals. This was a sort of privilege bestowed upon them.
‘The Observer’s eye are all enchanted with low-level repellent spell. I suppose it could avoid trash mobs like those man-eating mantises.’
Some of the Observer’s Eyes were held over the men and women who stood out from the rest of the crowd. These eyes were the property of the slave traders. Most likely, they would appear at a critical moment, trying to enforce a brutal contract on them that would place their lives as collateral.
“Now, now! Trashy humans! The game will begin!”
The homunculus with the red hat was hopping over to the humans. There was one man who walked over to the homunculus.
“Hey! What the fuck are you? Huh?”
It was a relatively muscular man in his mid-20s who also seemed quite agile. He must have used his fist quite a bit in the old world, but this was the Other World, old ways of thinking did not apply here.
“Trashy human? You have something you want to say to me?”
The homunculus with the red hat tottered along and asked. The man, seemingly full of energy, suddenly booted the Homunculus. However, the kick carrying all of his weight was easily grabbed by the Homunculus’ baby-like hands.
The man’s eyes only briefly reflected the horror welling up inside him before the surrounding homunculi gathered like vultures and each happily held onto a limb. The man desperately tried to swing his blade, but it was all to no avail.
“H-hey! Let go of me! Shit!”
“Trashy human, struggling without knowing your place! Time for a lesson~!”
Red Hat smiled viciously as he spoke.
“This place is OUR playground! Break our rules, and this is what happens!”
The homunculi snickered while tearing the man’s limbs apart.
The man’s limbs were torn apart, accompanied by a sickening scream. A woman’s shrill scream followed shortly after, leaving everyone in silent horror. The homunculi soaked in the terror of the humans and spoke out arrogantly, “From now on. You must all listen to what we tell you. Run over to that door with all your strength! Or else Mister Mantis is going to make a tasty meal out of you!”
The seal around the plaza fell away. The starving mantis swarm suddenly perked up. The humans finally understood the fate that awaited them. There was a desperate cry, followed by pandemonium. A huge group of 2500 people all bolted towards the door. Everyone pushed and shoved until the weakest of them were trampled to death. Sungchul calmly made his way through the chaos and towards the front of the crowd. This was all a familiar sight to him.
The Homunculus’ repertoire hadn’t changed a bit. There will still be an unwelcome surprise waiting for them at the exit.
A hand shot out from the exit followed by a creature shaped like a human. It was a ghoul, a zombie-like creature that sought human flesh but retained its consciousness. But their hunger still prevailed over their sense of reason.
The starved ghouls became frenzied at the sight of fresh, living humans. They caught the most athletic of them, who were at the front of the crowd and started eating them alive. At the traumatizing scene taking place before them, those at the front came grinding to a halt. However, the herd of 2000 didn’t stop with them. The people at the back continued pushing, while those at the front continued screaming, “Don’t push! Don’t push!”
Those facing the ghouls held the crowd back with all their strength, but in the end, they were slowly being pushed forward inch by inch, until they too were grabbed by the ghouls.
“So… hungry…! HUNGRY!”
Accompanied by the screams of their victims, the ghouls began to feast. Not only that, there was another stronger, even more terrifying predator hunting those who had fallen behind.
A middle-aged man feebly tried to defend his wife with his blade, but a beginner was no match for the man-eating mantis.
The mantis’ foreleg shattered the blade and snatched up the despairing survivor.
The homunculus smiled contently to the music of it chewing on flesh and bone.
“That’s why you have to run faster! You slowpokes, lazing about leads to this! Kehehe!”
It was a scene comparable to hell, but all of this failed to affect Sungchul. To him, there was a greater objective to be accomplished; and that was to read the inscription that was at the front gate.
“… Death will set you free.”
[You are a possessor of sharp observation. You have astutely observed the inscription written at the front gate, and completed Observant (Common)]
Reward – Intuition +1
The first quest had been completed. However, it was still far from over.
[Oh Ho! What a nice guy! You have completed Samaritan (Common) by helping 3 people who have fallen over.]
Reward – Apple x2
[Even in the bleakest of moments, you are a true romantic who would still stare at the two moons longingly! Romanticist (Common) has been completed.]
Reward – Palace Token x1
Even in the process of escaping, he was able to finish a few trivial quests. Things like the apples were earned at Sungchul’s leisure, but the Palace Token was the most important item within the Palace Quest. It was through the number of Palace Tokens that classes could be chosen. One would have to feverishly collect if they wanted to take one of the hidden classes, but Sungchul only wanted the common mage class. He could easily collect 9 of the 10 tokens with little trouble. Trying any harder would only garner the attention of the large guilds and sects.
‘I guess I should get about 15 tokens to be safe. Either way, I should finally open up my status screen, now that I’ve managed to get some intuition.’
In this brief moment, A ghoul rushed towards Sungchul. He reflexively swiped across the ghoul’s skull with the back of his blade. However, he forgot to control his strength. The ghoul’s skull managed to pierce through the reinforced floor.
He tried to hold back, but it was still too strong. It couldn’t be helped. His physical strength had exceeded the superhuman and could be ranked within the realms of divinity.
‘There is definitely a need for me to conceal my strength. By a lot.’
Thankfully, his action went completely unnoticed, no one had any attention to spare for him. That was only natural, this was the arena of survival where preserving one’s life was difficult enough, without having to worry about what someone else was doing.
The end slowly came into sight. The homunculi were waving blood-soaked cloths while shouting over people. Those that finished felt as if they were both suffocating physically and mentally. Sungchul softly muttered ‘status screen’ under his breath. Overall, the status screen of newcomers would be pathetic beyond compare. It wouldn’t be rare for it to be filled with just some meager stats and nothing else. This wasn’t the case for Sungchul. His status screen unfolded like a legendary epic.
<Current Status of Kim Sungchul, ‘The One Who Crushes’>
(Immune to Mental Attacks)
- Blessing from God of Chaos
(10% Bonus to Strength, Dexterity, Vitality)
- Heir of Heracles
- Bloodline of Zealot
(Major Bonus to Regeneration when Below 10% Vitality)
- Champion of Humanity
(+ 50 Resolve)
- Rapid-Bow of the High Elven Kingdom
(+ 30 Dexterity)
- Heart of an Ancient Warrior
(+5 Strength, Resolve, Vitality / Resilience)[Curses]
- Final Declaration of Grand Mage Balzark
- Blessing of Blademaster Karakardra
(+ 1 Dexterity, -1 Strength)
- Ancient God’s Champion, Arrak – Garr’s Criticism
- Dark Dragon Groteus’s Karmic Curse
(- 20 Strength, -20 Vitality)
- Adelwight of the Haunted Forest’s Common Curse
(- 5 Strength, Erectile Dysfunction)
- Enemy of the Kingdom
(Faction: Nemesis of Human Kingdom, Blank Check Reward)
- Destroyer of Hora Mountain Sect
(Faction: Nemesis of Hora Mountain Sect, Destroyed)
- Destroyer of Mewra Sect
(Faction: Nemesis of Mewra Sect, Destroyed)
- Enemy of the Coalition of Mages
(Faction: Nemesis of Coalition of Mages and affiliated guilds)
- Steel Fist Curse of Crimson Orc Chief, Drakuul
(Race: -30 Orc Favor)
- Recorded on Dwarven Log of Villains
(Race: -200 Dwarf Favor)
- Recorded on Merchant Coalition Blacklist
(Faction: Trade impossible with Merchant coalition and their affiliated factions)
Too long. It would take ages to read completely down to the class screen. This was why he had avoided opening his status screen before. There also hadn’t been any need to.
Sungchul sifted through the tightly packed lines of words to find what he was really looking for.
‘Ability power, class and soul contracts’
Main Class – Primordial Warrior (Legendary)
Sub Class – High Class Chef (Rare)
Strength 999+ Dexterity 853
Vitality 801 Magic Power 3
Intuition -9 Magic Resist 611
Resolve 501 Charisma 18
[Soul Contract – 6 Slots]
([Legend] Vitality Leech 15%, Vitality restored from fallen enemies)
([Legend] All Magic Damage reduced by 50% / Negate all mental attacks below legend rank)
Eye of Truth
([Legend] Negate all blessings below Epic rank / Identify all items, consumables, and skill details)
([Epic] Can store 1500 different items)
([Rare – High Tier] Conceals status window)
– Blank –
With the comparably lighter data, Sungchul first looked over the classes.
‘I suppose mage should be slotted to the sub class. I haven’t really messed around with it like some other people.’
Sungchul then looked over his 5th soul contract, Deceiver’s Veil. Soul contracts were, as the name suggested, an agreement where a deity or a similar being inscribes some of their power into the user’s soul. Each of these contracts were exceedingly difficult to obtain, but they also granted significant power.
Deceiver’s veil effectively deceived other users. It hid the user’s strength, but also their name. It was something essential for an unreasonably powerful loner with more enemies than friends like Sungchul.
‘I should play around a bit when I get the chance.’
He finally looked over his stats, or more importantly, his intuition.
‘Intuition is -9. That curse from the geezer, Balzark, is holding me back now.’
The image of an old man covered in countless inscriptions, spouting curses while being turned into tenderized meat flashed through his mind. Intuition was a core stat for a mage, going along with their magic power. Magic power represented a magician’s destructive strength and their mana retention, while intuition was related to their understanding of the higher tier magic. No matter how high your magical power was, without sufficient intuition one could never learn high tier spells. As far as he could recall, the Mage class required at least 10 intuition.
‘It is critical that I raise my intuition, but the limit for common quests is 10. I could raise strength by 23, but why is there so little room for intuition?’
It hadn’t been planned, but a need for hidden quests arose. However, he didn’t know the requirements for triggering any of the hidden quests within the Summoning Palace. He had only managed to get his hands on the common quest log. It wasn’t like there was another way…
Sungchul searched for the most leisurely among the survivors. He found one. One with the Observer’s Eye floating above. In other words, ‘a shoe-in’. A way would appear if he trailed him. A way to uncover a hidden quest.