Sungjin walked up to Illich with his swords at the ready. But then Illich raised his hands and said
“Hey, listen to me for a moment.”
Sungjin stayed his hands.
‘…The least I can do is listen to his last words.’
“I don’t know where you came from or what is it that you do…but why are you trying to kill me?”
Sungjin gave a short reply.
“Because you are a troll.”
“Wait, then why do you attack only me and leave the swordsman alone?”
Sungjin shut his mouth at his question. Chosen One and Chooser. He couldn’t reveal everything to him. He did not mean to tell him anything. But then Illich said,
“Is it because that swordsman is a ‘Chosen One’? Then are you the ‘Chooser’? The ‘Chosen One’ bonus stats are exactly 20% of yours. Am I wrong?”
‘…As intelligent as always.’
He was able to deduce Sungjin’s relationship with just the stats. Seeing Sungjin remain quiet, Illich continued to speak.
“Hey, I think you’re misunderstanding something. I was attacking back because that other guy attacked me first. Didn’t you see the red aura around that guy? I was just protecting myself.”
Sungjin couldn’t help but grin. He had never seen Illich show such pathetic side before.
‘Not even Illich can do anything in the face of absolute power.’
“That man does not randomly attack others. If he attacked you, you must have done something to provoke him.”
Illich then strongly asserted himself as he said
“That swordsman is too emotional. He was overcome with grief when the comrades died, and tried to blame me for their death. That’s when he attacked me. What was I to do? I am participating in the raid and just trying to survive, but he attacked me. It was all self-defense. Really.”
Sungjin stared at him for a moment. He didn’t know exactly what method he had used, but it was very likely that he intentionally provoked Franz to initiate the fight. But
‘That swordsman is too emotional.’
He was not wrong about this either. Franz had also attacked Sungjin before for going ahead alone. It was good that Franz had a strong sense of righteousness, but he was sometimes too narrow-minded.
‘Hmm, should I at least speak with him before I kill him?’
Sungjin thought, so he decided to ask
“If you were so justified, why did you run when you saw me?”
“What else can I do when someone stronger than me comes attacking me? I could only run.”
“Then you ambushed me.”
“You were faster than me. And tracking someone through the snowfield is very easy. So I thought it was the only way I could live. I was putting up one final desperate struggle for survival. And even then, I was planning on only making one or two strikes before running off again.”
‘He still speaks very convincingly.’
He was once an officer in the military. It would be difficult to ascertain the truth from just speaking with him. Sungjin thought to use the Eye of Jeremiah. No matter how much one trains, it would be impossible to circumvent the effects of this item completely. Sungjin touched the item as he asked,
“So are you saying you have never trolled before?”
“Of course. I’ve only done it once or twice. That Swordsman is too strong. I had no choice but to put my life on the line to defeat him.”
Sungjin waited for his surface thoughts to reach him. But instead of his thoughts,
[Eye of Jeremiah. Cooldown 5 minutes and 7 seconds remaining.]
The Operator had given him an announcement.
He had used the Eye already when speaking with Baltren.
He had traveled to another dimension since then, but not even 5 minutes had passed yet. Sungjin stared at Illich from above.
‘Should I give him 5 minutes?’
But that would take too long. This cunning man may attempt something meanwhile. Sungjin considered his options.
‘What should I do? Off with his head as usual? Or wait and listen to his inner thoughts?’
Meanwhile, Illich strongly continued to make a case for himself.
“Go ask that swordsman why he attacked me. I’m curious as well.”
Sungjin glanced towards where Franz lay in the distance. If Sungjin were to bring him into the conversation, the truth could be revealed relatively easily. But perhaps due to injury, Franz had not gotten up from where he fell in the distance.
In other words, he might be bluffing knowing that Franz would be unable to make a case for himself. But while Sungjin was thinking things over, he came to a sudden realization.
‘The ‘Chosen One’ bonus stats are exactly 20% of yours.’
‘That’s when he attacked me. What was I to do?’
Finally, Sungjin looked up at the man’s title. ‘Frozen Heart.’ He had neglected to consider Illich’s title because he already knew who Illich was. The fact that Illich decided to equip this title over a combat title was the most definitive proof he needed.
“…Now that I think of it, not only were you able to see my stats, but you knew Franz’s stats as well.”
“Ah…that is true.”
“Me aside, how did you know his stats? If he suddenly attacked you, when did you have the time to check his numbers?”
“Ah, thats…a habit of mine. I always check to see the other hunter’s stats before we start. I need to know the particularities of my allies to come up with a battle plan.”
This was where Sungjin noticed that something was wrong.
“But you could just ask them for that.”
“Well it’s complicated, and I can’t ask them for every little thing…”
Sungjin decided to put a question here to bait him.
“So, how are you able to check other people’s stats?”
And to this, Illich finally hit rock bottom.
“My hidden title…’s active skill. It allows me to check the stat of the hunter I designate.”
And he was smart enough to lie about which of the titles gave him that power, blaming a hidden title instead. If he had made an excuse about an item that allows him to see others’ stats, then Sungjin would have been able to ask him to open the status page to see. But unfortunately for him, Sungjin had just obtained a ‘Frozen Heart’ title in this raid.
‘No matter how smart someone is… they can only be as smart as the information they have access to allows them to be.’
Sungjin brought his sword to Illich’s neck.
“So you checked your targets before committing trolling.”
“Wha…what? I told you it wasn’t for the sake of trolling. I was just thinking about the team…”
Sungjin swung his sword without another word.
Illich barely raised his shield in time to block it. But Sungjin moved Artemio almost at the same time and cut off his hand.
The shield along with his arm fell to the ground. Sungjin addressed the man who was screaming in agony.
“Sorry, but I hate people who are different from how they are on the inside the most.”
Once his hand was cut off, he finally became a bit more honest.
“You… I don’t know what you are… but that guy…! Pick me instead of that guy! I am really strong. You saw, right? I beat that guy who had an incredible amount of stat bonus. Just think about it. If you give me that bonus, I can be a huge asset for you.”
Sungjin bit his lip for a moment. He knew better than anyone just how strong Illich was. That was why it was such a shame. If only he had been a good person, he would have made the most dependable ally.
But he was not that kind of man. Sungjin let his gaze drop as he sadly shook his head.
“Sorry…but no matter how strong you are, I cannot accept anyone who will bring harm to the team.”
At that moment, Illich jumped up like a spring and came charging towards Sungjin, taking out a dagger he had hidden somewhere.
The sound of a blade piercing the flesh reverberated throughout the Frostplains. Sungjin looked down. Before Illich’s dagger could pierce his heart, a two-handed sword had flown in from the left and had pierced through Illich’s side. The owner of the two-handed sword was none other than Franz.
The electrical current coming out of the blade was burning Illich alive. Sungjin watched for a moment before swinging his Blood Vengeance.
He beheaded Illich and then apologized to Franz.
“Sorry, I know you wanted revenge, but if I kill him, I can get two items.”
The items emerged from Illich’s body and fell to the ground. Franz stepped back and lowered his head.
“No, I am very grateful to you for even coming to help.”
“I’m happy to do so.”
Sungjin checked the items laying in the snow. It was the shield and mantle he had used. It was likely very valuable if he had decided to use it.
‘Unexpected meeting, unexpected rewards.’
Sungjin thought as he collected the items and placed them into the cube. Franz came up to him to apologize.
“I am very sorry. I should have won…I couldn’t beat a single troll…”
Sungjin wanted to say to him
‘It’s okay. He was no ordinary troll’
But instead, he just patted him twice on the shoulders. Sungjin noticed that Franz’s body was glowing red. He was in a Troll state. Sungjin said to him
“You are an important person, you know that don’t you?”
“Eh? What do you…”
Franz’s face became red as he blushed. Sungjin grinned and continued to say
“You are the one and only troll I will not kill in all of the raids. Be thankful.”
“Ah… yes, thank you Kei.”
“Don’t stay here, and go hunt some more before you go back. You have monopoly this round. Get as much as you can get.”
“Understood, Mr Kei.”
So Sungjin and Franz spent the remaining time roaming the Frostplains to hunt the monsters left. Because Sungjin was unable to receive any contribution from the other dimensions, everything they killed was attributed to Franz only.
[Raid 100% Complete]
[Congratulations! You have obtained a Legendary item…]
Franz received massive rewards befitting someone who was the sole recipient of everything there was to obtain in the chapter.
[Last but not the least, you will be awarded titles you’ve earned on this raid.]
[Adjudicator – When killing Party members who entered the ‘Troll’ state, obtain two of their equipped items]
The item he had always wanted, the ‘Adjudicator’ was finally awarded here.
Sungjin said to Franz who was looking very satisfied,
“Then let’s see each other tomorrow morning. Go to bed early, since the number of Chosen One increased by one. You will need to greet him.”
“Ah… understood, Kei.”
The Operator soon gave a countdown
[Returning to the Hunter’s Hall. 10, 9, 8, 7…1, 0]
Franz and Sungjin were teleported simultaneously. To the Hunter’s Hall.
In a building with infinite columns known as the Hunter’s Hall, the place that was filled with people as far as the eyes could see was now considerably thinned out. The hunters saw a familiar face of the Operator appear from between the pillars.
[Congratulations. The hunters gathered here have successfully cleared Eleven Chapters.]
[Of the 7,310,067,613 participants of the Chapter 1 Raid]
[The current number of hunters is now 103,655.]
[Everyone here is now a part of the top 0.0014th percentile]
[And have proven your worth through your strength.]
“What… so few left?”
“I think many people died during the Dragon Raid…”
“I think lots of people froze to death this round as well.”
While watching the others gossip like this, Sungjin thought to himself
‘It won’t be long now… when this hall is filled with just the final 10 hunters.’
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