Sungjin opened his eyes. A familiar ceiling entered his vision and he sat up on the bed. Feeling his forehead, he discovered that he was drenched in sweat.
Sungjin let out a long sigh.
He relived the moment he had died in his dream. He must be the only one in the world capable of doing so since a dead man cannot dream.
Sungjin who just dreamt of his old teammates from his previous life thought about them for a moment as he laid back in bed. About what he should do if he were to meet them again, and who he will choose to be his teammates once more.
In the first row was Hildebrandt. He had a cheerful demeanor. Even in moments of peril, he wouldn’t forget to crack a joke (they were often not funny). And he had said that his daughter was in purgatory.
He was a man dedicated to ending the raid from start to the end.
Second was Illich. He was a bit more difficult. He definitely had great skill, but he was very easy to anger and lacked flexibility. Whenever anyone deviated even slightly from the agreed strategy, he would berate them harshly.
‘He is… rejected. He certainly had leadership potential… but this time I am the leader.’
The second row had him and Nada with whom he had already reunited. Once again, they will fight alongside each other in the 2nd row.
Third row’s first member was Ryushin. Like other members, the probability of him surviving this far is very high. Just a few chapters ago, someone had purchased a legendary spear from the auction who Sungjin believed to be him. But he wasn’t someone Sungjin wanted in the final ten members.
‘He was far too egoistic and prideful. Even though I had to put up with it in the past… I am much stronger than he is now. Rather than me putting up with him, he wouldn’t be able to stand having me around. Rejected.’
Next was Umkhuba. He certainly had unbelievable physical prowess. But he was far removed from the civilized code of ethics and often had issues with communication. He would certainly be able to pull his own weight, but he would often do something bizarre that greatly shocked the rest of the team.
‘I don’t think… Umkhuba passes…’
Next was Araujo. He had a high understanding of tactics and strategy, but he was also on the nagging side.
‘Hmm… but at least he wouldn’t try to provoke a fight like Illich… does he pass? No no. He thinks too highly of himself and has too many complaints. He will… most definitely try to lecture and contradict me too.’
Next was Edward. There was only one choice.
‘Rejected… no, even if I have to put up with becoming a troll for one round, I need to eliminate him.’
Next was Shunsuke. Shunsuke had been in Sungjin’s team twice in the raids towards the end, but he always remained silent, and Sungjin never had an opportunity to hold a conversation with him.
‘I still don’t know anything about that guy… so, for now, it’s a defer decision… or does that mean I should just reject him at this point?’
Last was the healer Mustafa. He came from a different cultural background so he was occasionally difficult to understand, but he was deeply motivated to end the raids to save his family. And the number of skilled healers were low to begin with.
Now that he thought of it, aside from Nada and himself, only two out of the eight remaining hunters had passed his judgement. Hildebrandt and Mustafa. Sungjin thought of them for a moment.
Although they were from a very different background, they were also quite similar in some ways. Sungjin took a moment to think of what that was. And soon, he came up with the answer.
‘…family… is it’
Others had families as well, but the two men were the only ones who had carried their family photos in their wallets when they were first dragged into the raids.
‘Look, look Sungjin. They are my daughters. They all resemble their mother, aren’t they such beauties?’
‘In our country, we all lived together. Look look, this is my wife, my son, daughter, brother, brother’s wife…’
The two men were deeply motivated by the desire to rescue their families and felt a strong sense of responsibility towards putting the raids to an end. Sungjin grinned while thinking of them.
‘Well, it isn’t like all fathers are like them though.’
Sungjin was an abandoned orphan. Sungjin stood up from his bed. But when he absentmindedly looked towards the window, he saw lights leaking into the room through the gaps in the blinds.
Sungjin walked over to the windows and opened the blinds. The sun was already high up in the sky. He recalled that he had a lunch appointment with Serin.
“Operator, what time is it?”
[11 o clock, 42 minutes, 32 seconds.]
There wasn’t much time before his appointment with Serin. Sungjin began to prepare himself hastily.
A demi-human with the head of a lion and body of a human came to ask
“How would you like your steak prepared?”
Sungjin stiffened up. He was unfamiliar with these kind of places. Serin answered first.
“Um… I’d like it done medium rare.”
Sungjin quickly ordered the same
“Ah, me too.”
The place Sungjin was teleported to was a fancy restaurant with a classical orchestra being played in the background. The restaurant was near the auction house, on the top floor of the only five-story building in the Black Market.
‘I knew this place existed but…’
He never thought he would come here until today when Serin had him teleport here. Sungjin was inexpertly cutting his steak with the knife and fork as he exchanged words with her. It was their second meeting, but he had even less to talk about than last time.
If they were in the middle of Seoul, they might have been able to share a few words. But in the middle of the raids where people were forced to kill or be killed, the only topic they could speak about was of the raids.
“If you see anyone good during the raid, recommend them to me.”
“Yes, to become our comrade.”
“There are a few criterion, but first and foremost is being a good human being and having a strong sense of teamwork. As you can tell… this raid cannot be beaten alone.”
Serin nodded quickly at his words. She had seen many trolls. She would understand better than anyone else.
“And… it would be best if they were strong too, right?”
“Yes of course… although Oppa is probably the strongest.”
Hearing the word ‘Oppa’ was still strange.
“Well, yeah. And… no, that’s all. Those two things. Kind and strong.”
“Well… that… I think will be hard.”
“Finding someone simultaneously strong and kind. This raid rewards selfish behavior… which is why trolls exist.”
She had thought the same way he did.
“I think so too. But it isn’t like there are none. In fact, it is because they are rare that they have value in finding.”
“…I see. I understand Oppa. I’ll look for them.”
“Thanks. I’ll depend on you.”
“Comrades, you say?”
3 pm. Sungjin was eating waffle with Franz at a waffle house. His hands were getting sticky from the sauce and so eating was much less graceful than earlier, but Sungjin preferred this.
“Yes, Comrades. People we want to add as a Chosen One like yourself.”
“Hee… how exciting. Getting more Chosen Ones.”
“There are two others besides you.”
“Ah… I saw one of them. The Asian beauty from before.”
“Yeah well… there is a Western Beauty as well.”
“Yes. She doesn’t look like a stereotypical Caucasian… but she’s from Europe like you.”
“Ooh, I see… But is it okay Mr Kei?”
“Picking comrades by their looks.”
“Eh, that isn’t it… it just so happened…”
“Haha it was a joke, a joke. And I’m a man after all. I like having beautiful women on our side.”
“… Anyway, if you see any dependable and trustworthy individuals, please let me know.”
“I got it, Kei.”
“Didn’t you see last time, when you called me for help… the female archer who was standing by my side?”
“Hmm… I didn’t see.”
Nada said as she put a fork wrapped in pasta in her mouth. 7 PM. Sungjin was having his third meeting of the day with Nada.
‘Sungjin, Looking forward to working with you again.’
It was much different than when he saw her in his dream. Serin was the same; women seemed to be creatures who drastically change their behavior based on levels of friendship.
“The situation was quite dire; I must have not noticed it, Kei.”
“Well, that makes sense I guess, since the Dragon’s breath was being fired towards you as we spoke.”
“Anyway, so there’s a long haired Asian woman and another guy?”
“So, how many empty spots are remaining?”
“Taking ten man raid as the standard, six spots.”
She put down her wine to gaze out the window. The night scene of the Black Market was visible through the window. After staring at the light outside, she said to him
“Strong but trustworthy comrades, does six more even exist?”
She spoke as if she had also experienced ‘The last Raid’.
‘So Nada feels this way as well…’
Sungjin said to her
“Then… focus on trustworthiness. Since if they reached this far, they have already proved that they are skillful. And about being strong… Being given the Chosen One title can probably make up the difference.”
“Probably. And… this is just a guess, but everyone given the Chosen One title will probably survive to the end. The Chosen One passive is such a gigantic stat buff in of itself. And we can even ask for help when in danger…”
“But calling me all the time is a problem as well.”
She grinned at his comment and said
“I know, I know.”
“Anyway, I’ll leave it to you. If there is anyone you’d recommend as a comrade, let me know.”
“What will you do after you are called?”
“I will hmm… need to interview them.”
Nada opened her eyes wide as she said
“Yes, interview. I need to meet them face to face and exchange a few words, see their approximate strength, and check to see if they have the right qualities to become our comrade. It won’t be easy though.”
“Kei… you’re acting like some sort of CEO.”
Sungjin frowned slightly. But he couldn’t come up with any retort.
After separating with Nada, Sungjin returned to his bedroom. But only a few seconds later,
Dalupin came knocking at the door.
“What is it, Dalupin?”
“Receipts have arrived from the Auction House today as well, Mr Hunter.”
Now that he thought of it, there was that possibility too. Sungjin quickly got up to open the door. Dalupin handed over the receipts as well as the information sheet for the next raid.
“Thank you Dalupin.”
Dalupin bowed deeply and left. Sungjin put down the information sheet as he checked the number of receipts.
‘One, two, three, four, five, six…?’
Six receipts. Every item up for auction had been sold.
‘I knew it… I priced the items perfectly.’
Sungjin stuffed the receipts into the cube. He then asked the Operator
“Then… how many black coins do I have?”
[You have 46215 Coins.]
With this amount, he would be able to buy the ‘Staff of Helix’ and the elixir. Sungjin came down to the 1st floor as he thought so.
As promised, Soldamyr was waiting for him. Sungjin asked him
“So, how is the research progressing?”
He had tasked Soldamyr with researching on ‘Aio – Ring of the Great Sage’ for the day. At his question, Soldamyr answered
“Master, I was able to gain some insights.”
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