Sungjin let out a fake cough twice. He was caught off guard by Serin’s sudden change in attitude.
“Ah, as you… I mean okay I’ll avoid formal speech from now on.”
“Please do, Oppa.”
Being called Oppa felt extremely awkward. So Sungjin tried to speak more to conceal his discomfort.
“So earlier… someone called because of emergency. It was another ‘Chosen One’ like you, and she was in danger.”
“Ah yes… I… I saw that too.”
But Serin had a dark expression as she spoke. Sungjin recalled the situation earlier.
‘Hey, Mr Boobs. You said to call for you when I’m in trouble right? I am in trouble.’
He put his hand on his forehead.
No matter how he thought of it, the situation did not paint a good picture for him. Sungjin quickly changed the subject.
“So well… How was it? How did it go for you since the time we split up at the Canyon?”
“I gathered the book like you said, Oppa. All three volumes, and combined them.”
She took a book out of her pocket. The cover read “Thousand and One Nights”.
‘Just as I thought… she was the one who made it.’
He had thought of this possibility. She continued to explain.
“After I got the 2nd part, I gathered more coins. I saved up five thousand coins pretty quickly, but I waited a bit more before buying. And meanwhile when I was checking the auction house…”
Sungjin finished her words for her.
“And you bought a mystery pouch, right?”
“Oh my, how did you know?”
“I was the one who put it up for sale.”
Serin’s eyes grew wide and gathered her lips into an O shape. Sungjin thought
‘So you can make faces like that too’
She had a poker face the entire time Sungjin had seen her before, but now she was acting just like a normal mid-twenties lady.
He had seen her face in posters and advertisements (for makeup or sportswear) giving a charismatic smile, but he got a glimpse of her real self. Sungjin replied as calmly as he could.
“Yes. You can tell by the title of the person who put it up for sale. Wasn’t it Master Hunter?”
“No. I bought it from… Treasure Hunter…”
Sungjin retraced his steps in his memory. He had enough spec and had been using Treasure Hunter title around that time.
“Ah… Yeah, Treasure Hunter is still me. I sometimes switch up my titles.”
“So you got a 1st or 3rd part from there.”
“Yes. I was really nervous, but I was lucky enough to overcome the 1/3 chance of getting the same part. I received the 1st part from the pouch, so I bought the 3rd part from the goat merchant to complete the book.”
“Yeah? How is the effect?”
“Good. It’s usually strong enough to beat most bosses with ease. And… if we felt confident we’d attempt hidden bosses.”
“Really? What bosses were you able to defeat?”
“Dark Elf Village and the Magician’s Ivory tower, those two.”
Now that he saw, she was wearing the ‘Chimerao – Ring of Fused Beasts’ on her finger. Seeing her wear the same ring made it feel like they were wearing a couple’s ring.
“And this raid, I somehow ran into trolls… But once we got to the location with the Hidden Piece…”
“Hidden Piece… What did you do with the Dragon’s Heart?”
“Ah that… I decided to make a quiver. The old Blacksmith man said it’d imbue mana into my arrows…”
Sungjin continued to exchange words with Serin about the raids. It was awkward at first, but he felt his relationship with Serin had grown deeper. Meanwhile, she then asked
“Now that I think of it… Oppa told me then…”
“Mmm? What did I say?”
“That if we meet again, you’ll tell me your real name.”
“Oh yeah, that’s true.”
“So? What is it, your name?”
Sungjin breathed in, and for the first time since he regressed back in time, he told someone his real name.
Sungjin pursed his lips. When he looked at the wide-eyed Serin, he suddenly remembered why he even bothered to use an alias and hide his identity.
“About that… I’ll tell you once the raids are over.”
The reason why he decided to use an alias was simple; using his real name would only make them closer. And watching someone close die made the pain so much worse.
In his previous raid run, Sungjin had told his name to everyone he was friendly with. But most of them
‘Sungjin… this is it for me… Save yourself!’
‘Save me! Sungjin!’
Had died while screaming out his name. So this is why he didn’t want to tell anyone his real name at all. There was something strange about names; knowing and calling each other by names had a strange power that brought people closer.
On the other hand, using an alias would keep a certain distance from others. So Sungjin had been avoiding saying his name to others. Until now. Sungjin looked into Serin’s eyes and said
‘I don’t want to watch you die while screaming out my name’
But couldn’t say it and instead said
“I have a circumstance.”
“…You’ll find out as you continue through the raids.”
Sungjin didn’t think very deeply as he said this, but Serin picked up on something and said
“…It’s weird though. Oppa always… speaks as if you’ve done all of this before.”
Sungjin’s eyes grew wide
“Yes. Even at the time we first met… and even now…”
Sungjin flinched slightly but
‘Before regression, I was the final remaining hunter and have been given a second chance.’
He couldn’t tell her that. He tried his best not to let his feelings show.
“Well… I guess it could look that way. Since I am strong. But who could have guessed things would have turned out this way?”
But then she added
She pushed her long hair out of the way to show Sungjin her ear. Past her long flowing hair was a purplish earring adorning her lobes.
‘Eye of Jeremiah!’
Sungjin couldn’t help but drop his jaws. The Earring was none other than an item that allows the user to read the minds of the other.
“You know what this is, right? Since Oppa is wearing one as well.”
Sungjin couldn’t respond and froze in place.
“I touched it just before I asked the question. I am sorry for reading your thoughts, Oppa. I didn’t want to use it…”
Sungjin grasped his forehead. She had told him earlier that she had defeated the Dark Elven Village’s hidden boss. If she was able to clear that map so thoroughly, she had a high chance of discovering the hidden piece as well.
“But think of it. Being strong is one thing. You ran forward and killed the boss as soon as the raid started, then knew that a hidden boss was hiding somewhere on the map; it was all too suspicious. And then you even knew about the existence of the mask, the book. And now dimensional travel? You knew far too much for someone going through it the first time.”
“So how far did you read my mind.”
“Until the part where you said you were the final survivor and was given a second chance.”
If she had heard until there, she already knew the most important parts. Sungjin’s ‘regression’ was discovered. She continued to speak while Sungjin kept his hands on his forehead.
“But, I mean… you didn’t need to keep it a secret. It’s not a demerit to say you were the final survivor. You came back and are still doing your best to finish this raid, Oppa.”
Sungjin thought of what she said. Certainly, she was not wrong if the person he was telling his secret was someone he could trust with his life. She brought her pointer finger to her lips and said
“Then that means… in the last raid… I died once already…?”
Sungjin just gave up and told her.
“Yes. You would have died. I don’t know how far you got… but even I died. As the last human to lose.”
She nodded twice. She remained calm despite hearing the truth. Knowing that she had died once, or the fact that this raid was being repeated for the second time did not seem to shock her.
‘Then… I guess I don’t need to keep it a secret.’
The biggest reason why Sungjin had kept the regression a secret was first and foremost because he had thought no one would believe him. Second, he thought everyone would think that he was strange. Third, because hearing that this is not the first time the raid is going on might come as a shock.
But she had believed him 100%; she had already thought he was strange. And she was evidently unaffected by the truth. Sungjin decided to tell her
“Well, please keep it a secret from others. You’re fine… but it could come as a shock to others.”
“And I told you last time, but the number of people in the raid will continue to fall as it progresses. Well, having lots of people would be great… but we can’t save everyone.”
Serin nodded. She should have witnessed many deaths until now.
“That happened last time. 1000 remained, then a 100, then 50, and so on, the number of people kept on dropping until the final 10. There were only 10 of us left… but there was an internal friction, and we ended up failing.”
Serin listened to Sungjin silently.
“So, my plans are as follows. Find strong and trustworthy teammates to form the final 10 and breakthrough the last raid. In other words, pick those who are to become the ‘Chosen Ones’, like how I have chosen you.”
Listening to Sungjin, Serin pointed to the title above her head.
“Well, this title is amazing for sure. Thanks to Oppa’s stats being so high, with this… I don’t think I’ll have to worry about dying for a long time. As long as I am not extremely unlucky.”
“If you are unlucky, you can just call me.”
“Ah, right. I see.”
“Yes. And as you saw… there are two more Chosen Ones other than you. I would like for all of us to meet if possible but…”
Sungjin thought of Darker Than Black for a moment. There he might find a solution to his problem.
“I’ll try to find that out on my end. Anyway, I’ll be continuing to looking for people to pick; People who are strong and dependable so that we can finish the raid together.”
Serin suddenly said
“I see. I think that’s a wonderful idea, Oppa.”
Sungjin took a sip of coffee and said
“I mean… well… this was the best that I could come up with.”
“I see. Is there anything I could be helping you with?”
“First, become strong. The stronger you are, the stronger our team will be.”
What Sungjin just said was something very obvious, as even her survival depended on it. Sungjin tried to think deeper. Something she could help him with. Then, Besgoro who had been silent all this time finally spoke up.
‘What do you say, Kei? Ask her to summon you at night. You need a way to destress after the raid…”
Sungjin immediately took him off. Sungjin had forgotten about him due to his long silence. He must have been waiting for this kind of timing.
‘Haa… I let my guard down.’
Sungjin let out a sigh and told her
“Something you could help me…”
Now that he thought of it, he recalled that he wanted others to purchase Blood Vengeance on his behalf.
“Last Edge… I have something to take care of there. Let’s move first.”
Serin followed suit and stood up. Sungjin walked into the Black Market with Serin. Then Sungjin remembered
“Oh yeah, Serin. By the way…”
Serin looked up towards Sungjin.
“If you ever see someone by the name Adrian or Ed, even if you have to resort to shooting him in the back and become a troll for a round, please kill him. He’s blonde and uses magic. His title is probably… Spell Master.”
“Spell Master Ed… But why?”
Sungjin’s face became rigid as he said
“That guy… fired magic on his allies’ back at the last second.”
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