“It’s very nice to see you again. You’ve… survived well.”
Hearing Sungjin speak, Baltren respectfully replied,
“That time, the Heroic club you’d given me at a very low price allowed me to get through the early Chapters without much trouble. Of course, as the time passed the raids became more difficult… but thanks to the club I was able to get much higher contribution points in the starting Chapters, which greatly helped me survive. It’s all thanks to you I was able to make it this far.”
In response to Baltren’s thanks,
“No, you should give thanks to your leadership and decision-making abilities,” said Sungjin humbly. But he did feel that Baltren was also somewhat right in saying that.
From his experience, in the starting chapters Heroic tier items would drop only if the Hidden Boss was killed and the raid reached 100% completion, and even then it would only drop for the hunters who managed to obtain a minimum of 20~30% in raid contribution. So out of 100 points total, the hunter would have to have 20 to 30 points at the very least; it would be difficult for any brand new hunter, who was busy trying to adjust to his circumstances, to achieve such a result.
Even if someone were to monopolize everything (more specifically if everyone else in his team had all died in the raid), the Hunters who didn’t yet have a clear understanding of how Rewards were calculated would probably avoid going out of their way to seek out more monsters. So obtaining a Heroic level item from Sungjin at Chapter 1 was a major blessing. Just by having the exceptional weapon, he had started off a few steps ahead of others.
Baltren suddenly scratched his head and apologized,
“I’m sorry, but…”
Sungjin looked confused.
“I sold the club to the weapons shop when I found something better,” Baltren said.
“No, I understand. We’re at Chapter 11, and you shouldn’t be using Heroic level items.”
“Thank you for understanding.”
“No worries. It’s a normal thing to do, anyways.”
Sungjin snuck a look at the club Baltren held as he spoke. It was a completely black colored glossy blunt weapon, from the handle to the tip. On taking a closer look, Sungchul came to a realization that it closely resembled his sword Ariane.
“This club was… crafted using the Dragon’s Heart?”
Baltren was surprised at Sungjin’s remark.
“Oh… I knew you’d recognise it!”
“It would have been hard for you to find the hidden piece there…”
“Ah, I have the title, Treasure Hunter. This title allows you to…”
“I have it too.”
“Oh of course you do! I guess I’m trying to show off in front of the true Treasure Hunter.”
“It’s okay. The Treasure Hunter’s a great title to have,” said Sungjin.
“Yes. Having seen Mr. Kei look for hidden elements… I tried looking for them myself, and then was able to earn the title Treasure Hunter.”
Now that Sungjin looked at him, he realised that the club wasn’t the only thing he gave to Baltren. This police officer was quick-witted and must have followed his example in looking for the hidden bosses.
“After getting access to the active skill of the Treasure Hunter title, I’ve searched for as many Hidden pieces as possible. Well, there have been many instances where I would have lost my life to the Hidden bosses as well.”
“Wow, I see.”
Sungjin came to realise who had found the hidden piece, ‘The Star of Winter’, in this group.
‘I guess he’s got the skills…’ thought Sungjin, never having expected that the treasure hunter had been Baltren.
Sungjin asked, “What happened during the raid?”
“Oh… We managed to clear the Boss and found the Hidden Piece without losing anyone… But… It was the Hidden Boss that caused us problems. We weren’t fully prepared for the changes in its stances… and lost a few men.”
‘Changes in stances?’
He momentarily thought back to his past memories before regression and nodded.
‘Oh yeah. There was such a thing.’
When Sungjin first met the Hidden Boss, his group had no teamwork and thus, were nearly wiped out about half way through. He didn’t remember about the changes, since they were just cut down, regardless of whether the Hidden Boss was in an aggressive or defensive stance.
“Only he and I remained,” said Baltren while pointing at the dead troll slain by Sungjin.
“We originally had two spearmen. After we narrowly defeated the boss, I just barely managed to survive whereas that man came out unscathed. While I was catching my breath, he began to attack me.”
“I suppose he was envious for the other half of the contribution.”
Baltren grinned as he answered
“It was probably more than half. With the exception of Chapter 1 where I met you, I have maintained 1st place every round.
“Oh… is that so?”
Baltren confidently nodded twice.
Sungjin examined him from head to toe. Not only did he have a club made out of Dragon’s Heart, but he had good looking equipment from his helm down to his boots as well. He must have been able to grow stronger thanks to Sungjin’s item and hints.
‘This man… he’s become very strong. And I think I can trust him. He was always compliant since Chapter 1.”
With this much merit, he definitely qualified to be made into a Chosen One.
‘But… I should still give my due diligence. Then… should I give him a final test?’
Sungjin intentionally sat down on a log and began to converse with him.
“So, how did you manage to get this far? Is this the first time you faced a troll?”
“Ah, so what happened is…”
Sungjin was catching up with Baltren after their long separation. His plan was to hold some idle talk for a while and then activate ‘Eye of Jeremiah’ without him noticing. It wouldn’t last very long, but it should allow Sungjin to check his sincerity.
“For me, the Magician’s Tower was particularly difficult. Of course, all raids were hard as well…”
Sungjin waited for the right timing to touch his earring.
While Sungjin was pleasantly exchanging words with Baltren, Franz was busy dodging Illich’s Axe.
The Axe reached close to his face. And then the ethereal blue blade cut his lip. Franz who was breathing out from his mouth found his lips were suddenly frozen together. He swung his sword menacingly-
-to push Illich away. And only after 2~3 seconds-
-did his lips unfreeze on their own accord.
‘Incorporeal freezing Blades…’
Franz couldn’t really complain since he too used a sword imbued with the power of lightning, but this chapter just happened to be taking place in a Frost Plain. His sword lost its power when it came in contact with water or snow, whereas, Illich’s axe seemed to get stronger over time.
Franz swore as he fixed his grip on his two-handed sword. He couldn’t feel his left leg any longer. Earlier when he deflected the axe while he was down, the weapon had hit his leg before he knew it.
‘Is it frostbite?’
Franz thought as Illich began to walk sideways while keeping his narrowed eyes on Franz like some sort of predator. He walked around in clockwise direction with Franz in the middle. Franz was forced to turn to meet him.
‘Why is he doing this?’
Even when he fought Kei
‘This is his the way he fights’
Franz was able to somewhat guess what Kei was doing (only that he was physically unable to keep up). But, he could not read into what this cold man was thinking or how he was going to attack next. It was then, Illich suddenly changed directions and began walking the other way.
‘Damn it, what is he up to?’
Franz thought, but then Illich suddenly charged towards him. Franz quickly swung the sword in his hands. One advantage of his sword over Illich’s axe was reach.
Being able to hit first was a major advantage. Franz aimed for Illich’s body and launched a horizontal swipe. But Illich lowered his body to the point that he dove to the ground.
Franz’s swing went wide. For a moment, he thought.
But then Illich’s Axe also did not connect.
Franz who quickly corrected his posture stared at Illich.
He had shown a fatal opening, but Illich did not strike him. Illich would never have permitted such a mistake to happen in ordinary circumstances. But regardless, it was an opportunity for Franz. Franz readied to strike Illich who was still on the ground, but his left feet would not budge.
Once Franz looked down at his feet, he realized that Illich had not made a mistake. His axe, or more specifically, the ethereal blue blade had not missed but had struck his left thigh a second time.
His leg was already numb, so he didn’t notice when it paralyzed. When Illich had walked clockwise and then counter clockwise, he must have been checking to see if his leg was fine or not.
Franz was unsure as to what to do, so he dragged his unmoving leg as he backed off. Meanwhile, Illich stood up from where he lay.
Franz began to fear for his life. Illich was a master of combat and mind games. Franz had certainly felt fear when facing Master Hunter Kei, but that fear was derived from the absolute difference in strength. The fear he felt from Illich was akin to what a viewer of Science Fiction movie might feel on seeing mindless, heartless war machines coming to end humanity.
He couldn’t help but feel compelled to ask Master Hunter Kei for assistance. Franz was a man with a strong sense of pride, but the current flow of combat had removed his inhibition. He thought to himself as he watched Illich approach him.
‘I will lose at this rate. He will kill me without even batting an eye.’
“So you’ve never trolled before?”
Baltren’s thoughts flowed into Sungjin.
‘What a strange thing to ask’
“I wish for all the hunters to work together and end this raid once and for all. Of course, I understand that there are trolls all over the place…”
‘I don’t know why he’s asking me this… but I’ll give him a proper answer. This man might have the potential to save humanity, so I need to do whatever I can to assist him.’
Sungjin who heard Baltren’s thoughts suddenly said out of the blue
“Baltren you passed.”
“What did I pass?”
Sungjin took the Holy water of Baptism out of his vest and showed it to him.
“You’ll find out shortly.”
“You believe in me, right?”
“Yes… of course.”
“Then please allow me.”
And in a similar fashion as he had done to the other ‘Chosen Ones’, he baptised Baltren. After that he gave a brief primer on the functions of the ‘Chosen One’ title.
“My goodness, 20% of your stats is granted as bonus stats to me?”
But then the Operator interrupted him with an alarm.
[10 minutes have passed since entering this Dimension.]
Sungjin stopped himself short there. He still had one more Trollseeker Marble left to use. Sungjin said to Baltren.
“If you open your status window now, you will understand. The title is already active at half capacity. The rest of the details, I will meet with you at dinner time and tell you then. I have somewhere I need to be.”
Leaving the confused Baltren behind,
“Pursuit of Justice”
Sungjin transferred dimensions once more.
Sorry about the delay in releases this week.
We are stacked with work which is why the releases will be erratic for this week. Please give us some time as we sort a few things in our lives. Schedule should go back to normal from next week.