The iron gates on the walls surrounding the plaza opened, and an alienesque creature squirmed through. A man with particularly good sight spoke uneasily.
“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 the Summoned. The crowd remained still, unsure of what to do. But Sungchul was different. Without showing any particular emotion, 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 most powerful swordsman.
Sungchul hid amidst the rumbling crowd and observed the transparent beings that were meandering above their heads. It was a summoned creature with the appearance of a transparent bloodshot eye. Most people wouldn’t be able to notice it due to its invisibility spell, but such illusion spells were ineffective against Sungchul.
‘That must be the Observer’s Eye. Have they already started 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 were of interest to the higher ups.
As if on cue, the Observer’s Eye focused their attentions onto those special individuals at the same time. This was a type of a mark.
‘All of The Observer’s Eyes are enchanted with a low-level repellent spell. I suppose it could keep away trash mobs like those Man-Eating Mantises.’
Some of the Observer’s Eyes hovered over the men and women who looked promising. These eyes were the property of the slave traders. Most likely they would reveal themselves at a moment of peril, offering a contract with horrific terms in exchange for saving the Summoned’s life, just so that the innocent life can be plunged into the depth of despair and suffering.
“Now now, trashy humans! The game will begin!”
The Homunculi with the red hats were hopping over to the humans. A man walked over to one of them.
“Hey! What the fuck are you? Huh?”
It was a relatively muscular man in his mid-twenties who looked agile. He must have used his fist quite a bit in the Old World, but this was Other World; old ways of thinking did not apply here.
One of the Homunculi with the red hat tottered along and asked,
“Trashy human, you have something you want to say to me?”
The man, seemingly full of energy, suddenly kicked the Homunculus. However, the kick carrying all of his weight was easily stopped by the Homunculus’ child-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!”
The red hatted Homunculus smiled viciously as it said, “Trashy human, struggling without knowing your place! Time for a lesson!”
“This place is OUR playground! Break our rules, and this is what happens!” snickered another Homunculus while pulling the man’s limbs apart.
The man’s limbs were torn apart, accompanied by a sickening cry of agony. After a brief and shrill scream of a woman onlooker, the entire plaza plunged into a horrified silence. The Homunculi, basking in the tangible fear of the humans watching, arrogantly proclaimed, “From now on, you must all listen to what we tell you to do. Run over to that door as fast as you can! Or else Mister Mantis is going to make a tasty meal out of you!”
The seal surrounding the plaza fell away, and 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 towards the front of the crowd. This was all a familiar sight to him.
The Homunculi’s repertoire hadn’t changed a bit. There would 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. Although the creature still retained a bit of its human consciousness, their insatiable hunger prevailed over their sense of reason.
The starved Ghouls became frenzied at the sight of fresh, living humans. They caught the more athletic among the Summoned who were at the front of the crowd, and started eating them alive. Witnessing the traumatizing scene unfolding before them, those at the front came grinding to a halt. However, the remaining herd of 2000 didn’t stop with them. The people at the back continued to press forward, while those at the front began to scream, “Stop pushing! Stop pushing!”
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.
Accompanied by the screams of their victims, the Ghouls began to feast. However, there was 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 Homunculi made satisfied smiles while listening to the music of flesh and bone being devoured.
“That’s why you have to run faster, you slowpokes! Being lazy led to this! Kehehe!”
It was a hellish scene, but all of this failed to affect Sungchul. To him, there was something more important that demanded his attention, which 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
[You are a true romantic, gazing up upon the two moons longingly even in the most dangerous of times! Romanticist (Common) has been completed.]
Reward: Palace Token x1
Even during the process of escaping, he was able to finish a few trivial quests. Things like apples could be earned at Sungchul’s leisure, but the Palace Token was the most important item to collect from Palace Quests. Palace Tokens were required to pick a class. One would have to feverishly collect them if one 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 can probably get away with earning 15 tokens without raising an alarm. Now that I’ve managed to get some intuition, maybe I should check my status window for once.’
In this brief moment, A Ghoul rushed towards Sungchul. Sungchul reflexively swiped across the Ghoul’s skull with the back of his blade. However, he forgot to control his strength. The Ghoul’s head broke through the reinforced floor.
He tried to hold back, but he was still too strong. It couldn’t be helped. His physical strength had far exceeded the level of a human and approached 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 was in a position to notice anything out of the ordinary. That was only natural. Preserving one’s life here was difficult enough without watching what someone else was doing.
The end slowly came into sight. The Homunculi were waving blood-soaked cloths while shouting at people. Those who arrived first felt as if they were suffocating both 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 Sungchul Kim, ‘The Destroyer’]
(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 Resilience)
- Rapid-Bow of the High Elven Kingdom
(+ 30 Dexterity)
- Heart of an Ancient Warrior
(+5 Strength, Resilience, Vitality / Resilience)
- 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 Allied Mage’s Guild
(Faction: Nemesis of Allied Mage’s Guild and Sub guilds)
- Steel Fist Curse of Crimson Orc Chief, Drakuul
(Race: -30 Orc Favor)
- Recorded on Dwarven Book of Grudges
(Race: -200 Dwarf Favor)
- Recorded on Allied Merchant’s Guild’s Blacklist
(Faction: Trade impossible with Allied Merchant’s Guild 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 (Mythic)
Sub Class – High -Class Chef (Rare)
Strength 999+ Dexterity 853
Vitality 801 Magic Power 3
Intuition -9 Magic Resist 611
Resilience 501 Charisma 18
[Soul Contract – 6 Slots]
- Soul Harvester
([Legend] Vitality Leech 15%, Vitality restored from fallen enemies)
- Thunder Shield
([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)
- Soul Storage
([Epic] Can store 1500 different items)
- Deceiver’s Veil
([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 have.’
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 not only hid the user’s stats 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. Higher Magic Power represented the Mage’s destructive power and the size of his or her Mana reserve, while higher Intuition unlocked higher tiers of Magic spells. But, no matter how large your Magic Power was, spells simply could not be learned without their required Intuition. As far as he could recall, the Mage class required minimum of 10 Intuition.
‘It is critical that I raise my Intuition, but upper limit for increase in Intuition through common quest is set to 10. Limit for Strength gain is 23, so why is the limit for raising Intuition set so low?’
He did not plan for it, but a need for Hidden Quests arose. However, Sungchul didn’t know the requirements for triggering any of the Hidden Quests within the Summoning Palace. And he had only managed to get his hands on the common quest log. It wasn’t like there weren’t any other ways…
Sungchul searched for the most unnaturally calm individuals among the survivors. He found one. One with the Observer’s Eye floating above. In other words, a ‘Preselected’. A way would appear if he trailed him. A way to uncover a Hidden Quest.