The sound of a horse’s neigh could be heard from the distance. And outside the shaking carriage window, a tall tower could be seen. The moon hung low over the tower, and unknown beasts were flying in the moonlit sky.
‘Klopp klopp klopp klopp’
The shaking of the carriage matched the sound of the horse’s hooves. The place Sungjin was summoned to was inside of a shaking horse drawn carriage. More specifically, a carriage headed towards the Castle Ruins.
[Welcome. This is Count Dimitri’s Castle Ruins]
[It is the ruins of a castle built thousands of years ago.]
[Please be warned: The inhabitants of this castle]
[Have lived here since the time it was built.]
The Operator gave an announcement, and the carriage stopped just as she finished. The carriage was parked outside a large door. A creepy droning voice could be heard from the outside.
“We have arrived, sir Hunter.”
Sungjin finally opened the door and emerged from within. In front of the door, the carriage driver was waiting for him. The driver was missing his head. This was his second time seeing him, but it still creeped him out.
‘I don’t like this place….’
Sungjin walked over and stood by the entrance.
He couldn’t help but yawn. It was because he woke up very early in the morning.
Sungjin blinked and watched the people as they emerged. And as was his habit, he checked their titles first.
‘First Class Marksman’
It was then that he noticed. Sungjin thought he hadn’t seen clearly, so he rubbed his eyes and squinted.
‘Wait… am I seeing this correctly?’
He had not mistaken. Tall stature with shaven head, strange tattoo all over; it was a monk with blue eyes. He had an appearance that would stand out anywhere.
Sungjin already knew his name.
Sungjin shouted out the name before he could hold himself. It was the first time that he ran into someone from his previous life since the restart. Above the monk’s head read ‘Elite Pugilist’. The monk turned to look at Sungjin.
“Have we met?”*
Yes. Yes, they have. He was one of the few that survived until the end. When only a few dozen people are left, you often ran into teammates from previous rounds.
Although he wasn’t lucky enough to make it to the ‘final 10’, he had partied up with Sungjin on three occasions. They have struggled together for survival.
And now they ran into each other during this life very early on.
‘What a small world…’
Sungjin couldn’t help but hold his hands and shake it. Mahadas blinked a few times and stared at Sungjin, surprised.
“…How did you come to know me…?”
Thanks to having met three times in Raids, Sungjin already knew his background fairly well. He was originally a professional Tae Kwon Do fighter from Canada. Once he earned the championship for North America, he was recruited into the MMA scene.
His toughness was legendary and as was the reach of his punches. And with his training in Tae Kwon Do, his kicking skills were ranked very high. With perfect physique for fighting, the MMA scene eagerly anticipated his debut match.
However, during a practice match, a close friend and fellow athlete, died after an accidental kick to the face.
So he put behind his multimillion dollar contract and entered into a Buddhist Monastery in Korea. Gazing at Sungjin with his shocking sky blue eyes, he said
“If you know who I am, you must be Korean… But I am nothing more than an ordinary monk now. Please forget about my past.”
Then, someone else in the group recognized Mahadas; ‘Armored Soldier’. He raised his face plate and said
“Ah, I think I recognize you too. You’ve shaved but… you were some sort of a fighter right? MMA or something?”
His facial features suggested that the man was of South American descent. Perhaps from Mexico. Mahadas turned away, feeling uncomfortable for being recognized.
“That’s all in the past.”
It was then that the tall ‘Guard’ decided to speak up.
“Hey, it’s okay getting to know each other, but let’s include everyone, alright?”
And the last person there also piped in. The short Asian ‘First Class Marksman’
“Yeah. I don’t know if the tattooed monk is famous or not, but let’s first make preparations to beat the raid.”
Sungjin finally let go of the Monk’s hands. The two hunters were right, and this was Mahadas’s first time meeting Sungjin. Acting friendly and familiar more than this would probably be unwelcome.
It was then that the Raid Objectives popped up.
Count Dimitri’s Castle Ruins Raid
Objective – Hunt the Thousand year Count ‘Dimitri’
Time limit: 1 hour 30 minutes
[Raid will begin in 3 minutes.]
At her announcements, the Hunters gathered up and began preparations. The “Guard” began with his self-introduction.
“I am Dominic Spencer. I am from England, and as you can see, I use the Spear.”
He held up his spear for others to see and then he added.
“I am trying out some magic spells too. ‘Offensive spells’? Either way, it’s fire-based magic.”
The ‘Armored Soldier’ twirled his mustache as he spoke up.
“My name is Giovani. I was from Mexico… No, I am from Mexico.”
He seemed to be hiding something.
‘Is he an illegal immigrant? Not that it matters right now…’
If he were anything like Santiago, it would be problematic. The Asian man holding a bow was Chinese.
“My name is Peng Long. Chinese. I mostly use the bow, but I am also trying out magic.”
Mahadas gathered his hands together in a prayer and answered
“My name is Mahadas. My nationality… I am Canadian but… it doesn’t matter now. Before entering the monastery, I had been taught Martial Arts… and that is what I use to fight.”
Sungjin glanced to his side. Because there was actually a Chinese man on the team, it would be difficult to lie. So Sungjin revealed his true Nationality.
‘Guard’ Dominic Spencer took the lead. There was almost always one in a group of 5 that is able to rally the team effectively.
“Let’s discuss what we’re going to do. Especially… you know from the information page… The boss is a vampire that can suck blood and empower himself…”
Giovani continued to rub his mustache into a point as he spoke. It seemed to be a deeply ingrained habit.
“So… if he sucks blood he gets several times stronger?”
Sungjin had experienced it before, as well as read up on the information sheet. Once he sucks someone’s blood, he gets fully healed, and his stats increase by several times.
In the previous raid, there was a case where one of the team members got bit. And so the raid was just barely cleared before time ran out.
‘It would be great if it was possible for me to go alone and just solo the raid…’
Sungjin gazed up to look at the Castle Ruins. This raid was different from all the previous ones.
Unlike the previous raids, this zone was not designed to be traversed solo. That is until the raid boss was defeated.
It wasn’t yet clear if the ‘Hidden boss’ or ‘Hidden piece’ could be hunted alone, but until the raid boss is cleared, Sungjin was forced to tag along with his team. Sungjin glanced at his teammates.
They were planning their positions in a formation.
“Since Giovani is a tank, please stand in the front… followed by Martial Arts Monk and the Korean Swordsman…and me. Then Peng Long in the back. Right?”
“Right. Also… I noticed that at first the weapons and roles were randomly distributed, but as time progressed, it now looks like the system assigns us to teams according to roles, don’t you think so?”
“I think you’re right. 1 Tank, 3 DPS, and then backline support. Since… 2 Raids ago? Something like that.”
He would have to wait to see their individual skill, but no one appeared to be of poor character yet. And since Mahadas was on his team, Sungjin could relax a bit.
While the four men continued to talk among themselves, Sungjin was thinking by himself.
‘First, buy the Item from ‘Darker than Black’ using the raid reward… and starting with the raid after that… I will start to influence raids other than mine.’
He already had 3 Legendary items. He even owned the Unique Legendary item ‘Romance of the Three Kingdoms.’ Raids no longer posed any challenge to him. It was time to start thinking of the big picture.
‘Search through other raids and help those with good moral character, and those who aren’t… Kill them…. And handpick the ‘final 10’ myself.’
This was Sungjin’s new plan of action as a result of the ‘Igor event’. He was more than strong enough to affect as many raids as he could within the limit of his power; he needed to exert his influence over the overall raid as much as possible.
The end goal was to create the ‘Final 10 Survivors’ who were all incredibly talented as well as those he could trust. People upon whom he could depend on with his life. Only then, would it be possible to clear the final raid.
Last time, the final 10 were all unbelievably powerful individuals. Befitting to be called ‘Selected by the Gods’. But because of this, they had bickered and argued with each other without a good sense of cooperation and camaraderie until they were all wiped out.
The raids were impossible to clear with simply ‘strong individuals’. He knew by experience.
‘Within the raids, I will rise as a new God to rewrite the rules and take control over everything.’
While he was thinking so
“Hey, Korean Teenager!”
The ‘Guard” Dominic was addressing him.
“What do you think?”
Sungjin didn’t know how to respond for a moment. He wasn’t paying attention to the conversation. Now that he noticed, everyone was looking at him. Giovani realized that Sungjin was spacing out and complained.
“Hey, what are you thinking? This is a matter of life and death. How can you be so irresponsible?”
They must have been making quite a strategy among themselves while Sungjin was day dreaming. This party appeared to be very cooperative. At least for now.
‘What should I say?’
Sungjin considered his options for a moment while pursing his lips. But he decided to answer truthfully. He had to work with these people for the time being.
“Um. Truthfully, I don’t need something like strategy. And… same goes for the rest of you.”
Everyone’s eyes grew wide at his claim. Dominic narrowed his eyes out of suspicion and questioned Sungjin.
“What do you mean?”
“…you’ll see. Just follow me.”
Instead of answering he put his right hand on Moon Specter and the left hand on the Blood Vengeance. Before he could unsheath his two swords, Peng Long commented
“Two… Two swords? Dual Wielding?”
Martial Arts expert Mahadas commented as well.
“That… shouldn’t be easy to fight with…”
This wasn’t something that Sungjin could easily explain in a short time. Pulling out the two swords, Sungjin put on a fancy display of martial prowess before the others.
“Woosh woosh woosh woosh”
The two swords glistened in the moonlight. The others who had thought just a moment ago ‘we might have a troll’ were left speechless.
And meanwhile, the Operator announced the time remaining.
[The raid will begin in 10 Seconds.]
Where we wrote “Have we met?” the word by word translation becomes “Do you know this 소승 小乘”, Which means “Lesser Vehicle”, which is a way for monks to respectfully lower themselves and refer to themselves (a form of self-referencing pronoun, such as “I”). This is one of the few pronouns in Korean that is different (Japanese has like watashi, ore, boku, etc)
Also an update on our future projects:
We have started work on 2 novels currently and you can expect one of them releasing next week. The novels are “The man who grows stronger by breathing” and “MC hides his strength” (tentative titles) We are going for a mass release for both and are working on it currently 🙂 Do consider supporting us if you enjoy our work!