Sungjin opened his eyes. Soon,
He heard the knock on the door again. Sungjin turned towards the door and said
“I woke up. Thank you very much Dalupin.”
He didn’t hear anyone from the outside anymore. Sungjin got up and stretched. After lightly washing his face, he dressed up and went out the door.
Dalupin was watching Sungjin while blinking. Sungjin looked towards him and said
“I’ll be going then.”
“But… where are you going at this hour?”
Sungjin stopped to turn and look at him.
“Are you asking because you really do not know?”
Dalupin fell silent. Sungjin turned his body to face him.
“Don’t be like that, Dalupin. I don’t want to come to resent the man who shelters and feeds me.”
He was curious as to what expression Dalupin had on his face, but Sungjin left the door.
Cain was watching him from the outside. He wanted to follow Sungjin.
“Ah… Cain. Don’t… don’t come this time.”
He barked twice. It seemed he wanted to come anyway. Sungjin stared at him for a moment before replying.
“…Ok, do as you like.”
Sungjin led the way into the Black Market. Cain followed closely behind him. The market was dead quiet at night.
The Black Market existed for the sake of providing service to a single Hunter. If the hunter was asleep, there was no reason to continue operations. With the exception of a single shop.
Sungjin was searching for a lone shop. It was hidden deep within the Black Market; It was one of the most difficult shops to locate.
‘It should be around here…’
But he couldn’t see it. Sungjin asked the Operator.
“Operator, what time is it?”
[It is currently 4:32 am 32 Seconds.]
‘I got here a little early.’
Sungjin squatted for a second to look at Cain in the eye.
“Cain, the place where I am going… I mean, the person I am going to meet…. He’s someone dangerous. I do not know for sure, but… that’s what I feel. So you have to remain calm, okay?”
Cain replied with a short cry. Sungjin was playing with Cain’s fur when he saw the light blink on and off.
Sungjin turned to look. Then he saw that it wasn’t the light that blinked but the surrounding, which was suddenly growing darker. There was a shop covered in darkness. It was the darkest place in the entire market, darker than anywhere else.
‘…That must be it.’
Sungjin swallowed and then tried to go into the shop. But.’
Cain was acting unlike himself and was very fearful.
“Cain, if you don’t want to come, I’ll go alone. Go rest at Ninety Nine Nights.
Cain paced around restlessly and then sat down.
‘I guess he can’t help it.’
“Ok, just wait there Cain. I’ll be back.”
Sungjin entered the darkness. Within the shop was a stairway leading down to the basement. If not for the sensation of his feet touching the stairs, he wouldn’t have been able to tell there was anything there due to the sheer darkness.
Sungjin slowly and cautiously made his way towards the basement. Once the stairs ended, there was a small candle lighting up in what appeared to be a bar. There was not a single customer inside.
Save for an individual seated in the back corner in the dark.
‘What a terrible taste…’
Sungjin walked over while thinking so. The Operator gave an announcement.
[This place is the hidden shop, ‘Darker than Black’]
Sungjin glanced at the cube. The explanation ended there. Normally she would continue by saying
‘This place sells a variety of Katanas’
‘You can enjoy various flavors of tea in this shop for free.’
But there was no such explanation for this place.
‘Well… I guess that makes sense. How fitting that there is no explanation about the purpose of this shop.’
Sungjin walked over to the man sitting in the corner and sat across from him. Finally, the man opened his mouth to speak.
“He who searches for answers finds questions, and he who searches for questions finds answers. Welcome, young one. What do you seek?”
Sungjin was trying to see the man across the table. He couldn’t make out the details due of the darkness. The man opened his mouth and said
“Do you wish to see my face? Let there be light! Illuminate!”
A small orb of light emerged from his hands and floated above the table. Sungjin was now able to see the man. He was a human.
All the other vendors were demi-humans mixed with animals. But this man was 100% human. He didn’t look particularly weird, but it was strange.
His facial features gave off the feeling that he was Asian, and yet at certain angles, he looked western. While Sungjin was staring at him
“But why does my appearance matter?”
His face transformed; To Igor’s face. Sungjin was shocked. The man continued to speak, as his face continuously shifted. This time it was Serin
“Have no value.”
And after the last phrase, his face returned to normal. He continued,
“If you have questions, ask, if you have something you need, request. I exist only to fulfill those things.”
Sungjin was about to say something when he was cut off.
“With compensation. I will do, or answer anything with appropriate compensation.”
Sungjin hesitated for a moment before asking
“It exists, doesn’t it? An item that lets you move between raids.”
Sungjin lifted up his coffee mug. After taking a sip, he looked into the cup’s content. Black Coffee. It was black, but nowhere near as black as the darkness that had surrounded him.
‘What an apt name, Darker than Black…’
Thinking so, Sungjin picked up a green book he had laid on top of the table.
Spell Book – Polymorph
5th Class Green magic
Transform the target into a sheep. Duration depends on the Magic Power. If the polymorphed target is hit, the spell is undone.
Soldamyr began to speak needlessly.
“It is a great spell. When you face multiple enemies, it is useful for polymorphing one or two until you finish the rest.”
Sungjin had seen the effects firsthand, and so he knew it was a good spell. He lifted up the book higher and said
The spellbook burnt up with a green light.
[Spell – Polymorph memorized.]
[The incantation for the spell is ‘Discard your fangs and become a tame sheep! Polymorph!’]
Next, Sungjin picked up a blue book.
Spell Book – Chain Lightning
6th class Blue Magic
Fire a bolt of lightning that hits the target and jumps on nearby enemies.
Each successive enemy hit by the lightning reduces the damage for the next target.
Once again, Soldamyr piped up.
“This is my signature skill. I cannot count the number of enemies that I have defeated using this spell.”
Boasting and reminiscing about his past was his signature skill. Sungjin was about to put the Genie back in the lamp when the Genie spoke again.
“One thing to note is that if you previously used Polymorph on an enemy, attacking other enemies with this magic may unintentionally strike them and undo the spell. Please keep this in mind as you use the two spells you have learned.”
Sungjin thought his explanations made sense. He nodded.
‘Understood. Thank you for your tips, Soldamyr.”
Sungjin lifted up the book and shouted
The Spell book burnt up with a blue luminescence. Since he was done memorizing the spells, it was time to raise the stats.
Sungjin called for the Operator. He told her the stat distribution he had thought of.
“Increase Strength by 1500, Dexterity by 2000, Endurance by 1000, Magic Power by 700, Mind Power by 1500.”
“Show me my stats.”
The Operator displayed his stats on the hologram.
Strength 5736 4412 (+1324)
Dexterity 6621 5093 (+1528)
Endurance 4310 3315 (+995)
Magic Power 2105 1619 (+486)
Mind Power 2616 2012 (+604)
Unallocated Points: 0
What he learned from the previous stat allocation was the importance of Mind Power. After raising Magic Power to a high level, he found that he was unable to use magic when he needed to.
Sungjin initially thought that he would increase his magic power slowly over time, but as he saw during the Kutan Desert raid, the effects were quite powerful, and it was very comfortable fighting against monsters with spells.
‘Incinerate everything in your path! Fireball!’
Without that spell, killing sandworms that popped out of the ground would have been much more annoying. Sungjin stared at the modified status window for a second.
‘At the current state, there should be no problem with magic… I think I have more than enough status points.’
Sungjin considered his dilemma. With his stats, there was no longer a shadow of a doubt that Sungjin could beat the raids with stats alone. There was only one issue he needed to make a decision on.
‘Should I try the next raid with the Treasure Hunter?’
He didn’t think that there would be any problem. Almost every chapter had turned into a treasure hunt for Sungjin anyway.
With every chapter, Sungjin had grown so powerful that clearing it posed no challenge anymore. So, the most obvious choice of action was to test how it would be to keep Treasure Hunter title active.
“Operator, change my title to Treasure Hunter.”
Sungjin finished all his preparations, so he picked up the sandwich sitting next to his mug of coffee and took a bite.
The bread was soft and the lettuce crisp. The folded piece of ham perfectly complimented the rest of the sandwich. While enjoying the sandwich, he read the sheet of paper in front of him.
‘Information on Count Dimitri’s Castle Ruins’
Sungjin asked the Operator without looking away from the sheet.
“Operator, how much longer until the Raid begins?”
[36 minutes and 24 seconds.]
‘Plenty of time.’
Sungjin slowly read the content from top to down on the information sheet. Sungjin was more nervous than usual.
By the end of this raid, he was planning on buying ‘that item’ which would allow Sungjin to intervene in other raids.
Unlike other times, Sungjin focused on the details written on the information sheet. What caught his eyes were the section about the boss himself.
…Boss Count Dimitri’s special ability is ‘Drink Blood’. If he succeeds in drinking blood, then he regains health and is empowered. Protecting your allies is the key to success in this raid.
‘Protecting… I’m not very good at this…’
And while reading through the information page, he was teleported away, to ‘Count Dimitri’s Castle Ruins’.