Mason yelled as he screamed out in pain from losing his arm
“What the fuck! Who the fuck are you?”
The man with the flaming skull mask paused, and pointed at the title above his head with the point of his sword.
Since he understood speech, he was definitely not a monster. Mason placed his hand over his heart as he said
“Ye…Yes, Adjudicator. I mean, Sir, I just wanted to live. I only did those things so I can survive.”
As he bought himself time, he tried to think as quickly as he could. The boots that he wore were the Boots of Emergency Escape. It could launch him more than ten meters into the sky and help him escape.
‘If I can just get an opening…’
As best as he could,
“Think about it… if I didn’t increase my contribution points from early on…”
He discreetly picked up dirt with his unharmed hand.
“I have a family in the Purgatory.”
He aimed for and sprayed the dirt towards the skull mask, especially towards the eyes. But the Adjudicator knocked the dirt out of the air with unbelievable reflex.
He didn’t have time to be amazed by the Adjudicator’s reflexes. He was about to invoke the ‘Emergency’ function when
The necklace he wore suddenly opened its eye. When Mason’s eyes gazed into the terrifying snake eye staring from within, he found himself petrified.
His tongue got stuck in place. The Adjudicator calmly walked forward as he began to speak.
“He, who for his own benefit”
Slowly, very slowly, he raised his blade.
“Steals what is not his”
The Paralysis was over. He immediately cried out
But before he could hop away, the ‘Adjudicator’s blade swung down. It cleanly cut him in half. Blood splashed out from his wound. Mason heard, with fading consciousness, last of the Adjudicator’s words.
“You, and everyone like you, are enemies of mankind.”
Max watched from afar whilst hugging himself. He had watched the whole thing from beginning to end. At the last possible moment when he had given up hope, the Adjudicator appeared from nowhere.
And, with his superhuman swordsmanship and flashy magic spells, took down two trolls without so much as an injury.
Max had seen countless hunters until now, but this was a whole new level, something beyond what he would believe to be human; His magic and swordplay both. As Max witnessed the spectacle before him, he thought to himself
‘Hear me, God; I fear no death. But I pray that those two sons of bitches die a miserable end.’
He believed that his prayers must have worked and that the Skull-masked man was a messenger of God; a deliverer of Divine Justice. He who befits the name of Adjudicator.
The Adjudicator gave some sort of last words to Mason and then executed him.
Strangely, whenever the Adjudicator killed a hunter, some of the items that the hunters wore copied itself and dropped before him.
The Adjudicator picked up the items and put them into his cube. This was an unnatural course of event; Normally the items owned by another hunter couldn’t be separated from their owner, even in their death. Max felt as if some sort of miracle was in progress.
‘He’s different from the others.’
While Max concluded his thoughts, the Adjudicator finished picking up the items and putting them away. He turned towards Max and approached him. Max looked up to him and asked
“…have…You come to answer my prayers?”
But then the Adjudicator ripped off the mask. Inside was an extremely young Asian man, having an irritated look.
“Why are you so annoying”
Max couldn’t help but shut his mouth.
Sungjin had to take off Besgoro’s Helmet. The battle addict had been acting up each time Sungjin killed someone
‘Nice! Kill him!’
‘You’re the best, Kei!’
He kept on shouting in his ears. Even when he finished collecting items which appeared as a result of ‘Adjudicator passive’ and made his way towards the last hunter, he asked
‘Who’s that guy? Another prey?’
‘No. He’s a victim.’
‘He’s weak anyway! End his life here!’
He was making unreasonable demands.
The lone survivor tried to tell him something when Besgoro interrupted.
‘Why! How can I be quiet?! I haven’t been so riled up in such a long time!’
Besgoro’s elated voice washed out the hunter’s words. So Sungjin took off Besgoro from his head.
“Why are you so annoying”
He was an old man, but he was slightly insane. Sungjin understood how Count Dimitri might have felt.
No matter how much renown his soldier accrued under his service, having a crazy old man demand the hand of his daughter would have driven anyone to order an execution. Once Besgoro was removed from his head, the color and saturation of his vision returned to normal.
Sungjin looked up into the endless sky of the Plateau and took a deep breath.
But he felt an intense stare on him. The last survivor, the white man, was looking up at him. His eyes were full of wonder.
Sungjin looked down at him. The man was bleeding from his legs.
“Are you alright sir?”
He looked to be 30~40 years old; a much older man than himself. He only nodded without speaking. He was a tank so he should be conscious of his HP level.
“Ah, I’m glad to hear that.”
Sungjin tried smiling after. Once he ‘intervened’ in this raid, he was able to obtain four new items from two trolls. It was a good haul.
Most of the item he received appeared to be at least Heroic Tier. Sungjin estimated his earnings for this round.
‘I should consider each of them to be worth at about 4000~5000 coins… and then if they get bid on during auction….? No wait, I should first check their specs before I decide on their worth.’
But the man interrupted him with a strange question.
“Are you… an angel?”
Sungjin tilted his head. Did he lose his mind from being betrayed by his teammates? Sungjin responded.
“An Angel? Do I look anything like an Angel?”
“Well then… how did you… come here?”
The survivor couldn’t understand how more than five hunters could have been summoned to the same raid. But there was no reason why Sungjin needed to explain him that. The cube interrupted the conversation on time.
[All Trolls Eliminated. Returning to the Black Market in 3 Minutes.]
The ‘intervention’ must be designed to end as soon as the trolls are dead. Sungjin decided to give him some advice rather than answering his question.
“I cannot stay here so…. I can’t protect you. For the remaining time, please hide somewhere away from the monsters, collect your reward and return safely to the Black Market.”
He was an extremely lucky man. Not only did he survive in a hopeless situation to be saved by Sungjin, but he was able to monopolize all the points for this round. But the Survivor replied to him.
“Excuse me… You saved my life… How can I repay this debt?”
Sungjin was about to shake his head and say, ‘it’s fine I wasn’t doing this to get something out of you anyway’, but then the ring on his hand caught his eye.
A ring in the shape of two coiling snakes; ‘Helix Ring – Ring of Warlord’
‘This is only 3000 Black Coins. Go ahead and buy it for now.’
Said the strange Merchant in Darker than Black and bid him to buy it, but the ring would be difficult to use to its full effect.
Receive 1 White Coin from those who, knowingly and of their own free will, kisses the ring.
Those who kiss the ring receive a permanent 10% loss to all future Raid coin rewards.
Can only be used once per person.
It was the only way to earn white coins for now, but because of the harsh penalty, it was not something he could easily ask of anyone. When he noticed the hesitation in Sungjin, he asked
“Please go ahead and ask anything. Thanks to you, I was able to obtain a second chance in life.”
Sungjin hesitated a bit more before he finally decided to ask
“This might sound weird, but would you be willing to kiss this ring? But…”
The survivor didn’t even try to listen all the way before moving to kiss the ring. Sungjin withdrew his hands. He could have let the man do it as is, but it did not sit well with his consciousness.
Sungjin resumed the explanation as clearly as he could.
“In return, you will face 10% permanent loss to all future raid Coin rewards. Do you still accept?”
At his explanation, the Survivor froze. Sungjin nodded.
‘I thought so…’
Even though Sungjin was his savior, having to give up this many coins from now until the end would be a difficult burden to accept. But, the survivor decided to ask
“If you can answer one question for me, I would gladly do it still.”
“What is it?”
“Knowing that I will receive such a penalty, why are you asking me to kiss the ring?”
Sungjin considered how he should respond.
‘To obtain the White Coins.’
But if he mentioned the white coin now, he would have to make an endless explanation about the ‘Darker Than Black’ among other things. After Deliberating, he decided to answer
“I have a Sa Myung.”
“Yes. You probably recall at the last visit to the Hunter’s Hall, if someone manages to finish and clear the final raid, all of humanity would be freed from the purgatory and would be revived… As you can probably see, I have grown stronger as a result of being transplanted in different raids.”
What he actually meant by transplanted was the ‘Restart’, but he couldn’t say that.
“I cannot tell you everything yet… but if you were to kiss the ring and grant me my request, I can guarantee you that it will contribute a great deal towards ending the raid and saving humanity.”
As soon as Sungjin was done explaining, the Cube gave another announcement.
[Returning to Black Market in 1 minute.]
The survivor took a moment to think, but he eventually nodded.
“I understand. I will deal with the 10 Percent penalty and kiss your ring. Since you say this will save humanity, I want to beg of you to allow me to be able to kiss the ring.”
His words were filled with earnest feelings. Sungjin offered the hand with the Ring of the Warlord to him. The Survivor kneeled respectfully and kissed Sungjin’s Ring.
The Survivor’s Cube was first to give an announcement.
[You have granted “Reign” to another individual. Your coin rewards will permanently decrease by 10%.]
Next was Sungjin’s Cube.
[Obtained 1 White Coin as a result of ‘Reign(I)’ effect.]
And with her announcement a White coin materialized in front of him. It was of the same size, shape and weight as the Black Coin. The only difference was the color.
Even for Sungjin, it was the first time he had seen it. The Survivor stared at the coin in wonder as well. Sungjin held the Coin up as he asked the survivor.
“What is your name?”
“Max… My name is Max O’Brian.”
Sungjin kept his name in his heart. For the first time, he was about to reveal his real name out of gratitude.
But the man grabbed his hand. It was a large and hairy hand.
“Sir Adjudicator… please become even stronger and bring an end to these raids. In the Purgatory… My wife and daughters are waiting for me.”
As he said this, his eyes grew red. Sungjin had nothing to say. He held the survivor’s hands in his own.
“Please believe in me. I will do it, I swear to you.”
The Operator began a countdown.
[10, 9, 8, 7]
Sungjin held his hands until the countdown completed.
[6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0]
Once the countdown was over, Sungjin was returned to the Black Market.
TL note 사명 Sa Myung
I didn’t feel comfortable translating this with a close english equivalent.
It means, obligation, mission, duty etc. It means it’s something he must accomplish, it’s like he has a burden.
However, there is an important subtext that’s missing. 사명 literally translates to “Mission to the Death”, a mission he must accomplish no matter what, no matter the cost, even at the cost of his life. I didn’t feel that there was a satisfactory English equivalent that could convey how important he felt this mission was to him.
I tried ‘obligation’ but that felt like it was forced on him.
He’s basically declaring he’s prepared to die on behalf of all of humanity. As opposed to all these half-baked hunters wishing to save just their loved ones and family, or just themselves.
It is disappointing that I couldn’t find an English word to come even close to what this Korean word means.