Ark: Volume 1 Chapter 4

//Ark: Volume 1 Chapter 4

Ark: Volume 1 Chapter 4

This chapter is brought to you by AnmesicCat, BDark, Hikaru, Junny, Lei, and Masadeer. and shadow


Desperate Struggle with the Demon Mouse

As Ark scaled the Harilal Mountains, he used his Foraging skill to gather all the grass and fruit he could see, cramming them in his bag.

It was so he could test out his newly learned Survival Cooking.

As he’d expected, when he arrived at the cave it was crawling with mice again. Because he had cleared the mice swarm before, he was able to recover 2 stat points in just 1 hour. However, his satiety was down to half and his health recovery rate was falling.

It was time to use his newly learned skill.

‘Well, shall I just put this and that in and mix it up?’

Ark rummaged around his bag and put mushrooms and some strange looking grasses in his pot. With the Survival Cooking pot, there was no need to make a separate fire. All you had to do was put in the ingredients, and everything would be automatically heated and food would be made. He added water and after about 1 minute, an explosion suddenly erupted from the pot.

– You have failed Survival Cooking. All the ingredients have been consumed.

Even after that, he tried again and again with different ingredients, but he just kept getting the failure message. Finally, with his seventh attempt, he completed a soup that radiated a fragrant smell.

– You have successfully used Survival Cooking. This is a dish made with the use of Land Fruit and Cochran. However, without personally tasting it, there is no way to tell what kind of dish it is. After confirming its taste, the recipe and its special effects will be automatically recorded in the Cookbook.

Ark quaffed a sip of the soup without a second thought.

There was a sharp feeling accompanying the food down his throat and, suddenly, his vision yellowed. The strength from his body was sucked right out. As his back helplessly twisted, his head struck the floor.

‘W-What’s going on?’

-You have been poisoned with a paralytic poison!The food you have made using Survival Cooking is ‘Fragrant Poison Soup.’The effects of being poisoned are paralysis, a decrease in satiety and you cannot move for 10 minutes. It’s better not to make this soup.

‘Holy cow, so this was what it meant by dangerous?’

Then didn’t that mean that he’d have to suffer these kinds of effects every time he made a new dish? Fortunately, he had already cleared all the wolves and mice in the area, but if he had haphazardly made the dish and eaten it, he might have even died then and there.

After groaning and moaning for 10 minutes, Ark was finally able to stand up. With a shudder, he tore into the wheat bread he had brought just in case.

“Damn, no wonder he taught me this so meekly.”

After all, life was not that easy.

* * *

‘What the hell should I do with that mouse bastard?’

Hyun Woo’s mind was entirely filled with thoughts of the Demon Mouse.

It had already been two days since Kraydon had updated the quest. During the past two days, he had gone into the cave dozens of times, but he gained nothing. The cave’s structure was complicated, but in the end the roads all converged into one place: the lair of the impudently resistant Demon Mouse.

He had also thought about luring the Demon Mouse to a different place and going in. However the Demon Mouse didn’t move an inch from where it was planted. In the end he just wasted time in a state where he couldn’t do anything. All he managed to do was to restore his cut stat points.

‘Is there really nothing I can do but to give up like this?’ Hyun Woo puffed out a sigh.

The deadline was until tomorrow afternoon. But since he had to go to work in the day, if he couldn’t finish this up by tonight, the quest would be cancelled and the Soldiers would be on the move. The room for Hyun Woo to claim his rights would disappear.

“Eeeek!”

A shriek burst out from within the warehouse.

It was Jung Hye Sun, the night university student who worked part-time at the mart. Though she was smart enough to earn a scholarship, the reason why she was at a night university was because of family circumstances.

He hadn’t heard the details, but it seemed like a tough situation.

After being awakened by cold reality, Hyun Woo had become a cynical person. He didn’t even get along with his co-workers at work. There were times when he’d been cursed at for that kind of personality. Still, he wasn’t like that to everyone. To the few people who truly worried about him, Hyun Woo also treated them with sincerity.

No, could it be that it was their reaction to distance themselves from anyone they couldn’t use? He had cared about those kinds of exploiters more than he needed to.

In this case, Jung Hye Sun was suffering through a plight like his own. After learning about her family situation, he had taken care of her as if it was his business to. He had taken responsibility for her mistakes, and sometimes he gave her sodas that he himself hadn’t bought and drank for many years. If he’d had a little sister, it would be that feeling.

His consciousness abruptly awakened, Hyun Woo rushed to the scene.

“Hye Sun, what’s going on?”
“Mouse, a mouse…”

Hye Sun, who had collapsed on the floor, pointed to an area as she trembled. As he turned his eyes towards the area, a baby mouse quickly escaped in between some boxes.

Hyun Woo watched the mouse with annoyed eyes and muttered.

“Damn, mice are a problem whether it’s here or there.”
“What? Are there mice at oppa’s house, too?”
“No, there’s something like that.”

As Hyun Woo cleared away the boxes to find the runaway mouse, Hye Sun was appalled.

“Don’t, don’t do that. What are you going to do if the mouse comes out again?”
“It has to come out so I can knock it down.”
“Oppa, aren’t you even afraid of mice?”
“Scared? Of mice?”

Hyun Woo laughed. To be sure, in the past he would have been a little scared. These days, there weren’t a lot of chances to see a mouse. However, now he felt no difference between a mouse and a fly.

New World’s mice were more realistic than reality. He had killed ten thousand of those mice in the village and had killed thousands of them today at dawn. In addition, he was currently waiting for an opportunity to kill the Demon Mouse. Knocking down one baby mouse was no problem.

“Just wait. I’ll thrash it right away.”
“Don’t, don’t do it. I don’t want to see it again. There’s nothing in the world more scary than mice to me. I’m afraid just thinking of mice being here. I think I’ll have to tell the owner right away and at least sprinkle some rat poison.”

It was then that Hyun Woo, who was cleaning up boxes, flinched.

Hye Sun was startled and asked with a shaky voice, “What’s wrong? Did the mouse come out?”
“Hye Sun, what did you just say?”
“What? That we’ve got to put out some mouse poison….”
“That’s it!” Hyun Woo shouted while clapping his hands. “Why didn’t I think of that? It’ll be simple if I do that!”

Hyun Woo suddenly turned around, grasped Hye Sun’s hand tightly, and shook it enthusiastically. “Thanks, Hye Sun! Thanks to you, I’ve finally found the way to resolve this!”

“What? What?” As Hyun Woo suddenly grasped her hand and shook it, Hye Sun turned tomato red.

* * *

“Hu hu hu, you doomed mice bastards. Today is the day you bastards die.”

Ark had a satisfied smile as he looked at the bubbling, boiling pot.

The tasty smelling, strongly aromatic food was Ark’s masterpiece, the ‘Fragrant Poison Soup.’

Ark stored enough of the completed soup into some pouches and entered the cave. Thanks to the repeated attacks of Ark and the wolves, the cave was already mostly depleted of mice. When he reached the innermost part where the Demon Mouse was holing up inside, a great number of mice rushed at him while making menacing noises.

Ark fought the rats with his sword and entered further inside.

Grrrrrrrrr.

Within the darkness, the red lights sparkled. He had seen it so often that it didn’t even occur to him to be scared. They were annoying, flashing eyes that said the Demon Mouse was there once again. Thinking the Demon Mouse was a hindrance, he went forward.

“Don’t glare at me like that. Today I’ve come to bring you a present.”

Ark strode confidently to the Demon Mouse, then grabbed and threw the pouch. The Demon Mouse reflexively swung its front paw at it and tore a large hole in the pouch, which spilled the Fragrant Poison Soup.

The Demon Mouse hesitated for a bit. However, no matter how large a mouse was, it was still a mouse in the end. There was no way it could go against its nature. After crinkling and darting its nose in and out, the Demon Mouse licked the soup.

On the outside, poisonous mushrooms are beautiful. The Fragrant Poison Soup also appeared harmless from an outward glance. The smell was incredibly good, and the taste was also alright in its own way. The soup must have been to the Demon Mouse’s liking because, after eating it once, it thoroughly licked the floor. The other rats had also fallen for the seemingly harmless exterior of the soup and swarmed around.

“That’s right, eat lots.” Ark threw the rest of the bags with a pleased expression.

Soon afterward, the Fragrant Poison Soup finally took effect. The greedily lapping small mice convulsed and stretched out. Then, the Demon Mouse must have sensed that something was wrong, because it cried out with a sharp sound. But by then, it was too late.

His trump card cooking was already taking effect in the Demon Mouse’s stomach.

The Demon Mouse stumbled around and limply collapsed on one side. Belly-up, with its four legs pointed skywards, it started to tremble.

“Kekeke, you high and mighty mouse shit. You’re no match for me. Then, shall I take a look at whatever you’ve been hiding? No, I should get my revenge on all the times I’ve suffered first, right?”

Ark hummed a song to himself as he approached the Demon Mouse. Then, in front of his eyes, a terrifying claw suddenly shot out at him. As Ark instinctively pulled out his sword and raised it, his hands shook.

“How, how could this be….!”

Ark’s face went pale. The Demon Mouse he had thought was completely paralyzed had swung its front paw at him.

Something was wrong! Ark urgently turned his body to run away. However, the Demon Mouse had already blocked half of the exit with its body.

‘Damn it, am I going to die again?’

Just then, when a hopeless expression surfaced on Ark’s face, the Demon Mouse breathed hoarsely and wobbled as it stepped towards him.

‘No, the drug is working. It’s just that in comparison to its body mass, the drug dose was too small, so the effect is weaker.’ His thoughts racing, a light flashed in Ark’s eyes.

New World wasn’t a game where you could simply hit and slash anyways. How well he could handle a fighting situation was also important. So there was no reason why he couldn’t handle a Demon Mouse that had consumed a paralyzing drug and couldn’t properly steady its body. In addition, Ark was already at a state where he had achieved level 10.

“Alright, then even if I die, I’ll see this to the end!” Ark brandished his sword and began to attack the Monster Rat.

Maybe it was the effect of his level ups, or because of the paralysis, but his attacks were received differently than before. Every time Ark swung his sword, blood spurted out and the Demon Mouse staggered. However, Ark didn’t hurry.

‘The drug effect lasts for 10 minutes anyway. There’s no need to rush.’

Ark circled around the mouse and while ceaselessly thrusting his sword. The Demon Mouse brandished its front paw several times, but it lacked the power from before. Ark was usually able to slide past the attacks without difficulty.

However, the system was set up so that avoiding every attack was impossible. As time passed, the injuries on Ark’s body grew and his health fell. After 5 minutes of attacking, the Demon Mouse’s body turned reddish.

‘It’s in critical condition! I can see the end at last!’ The critical condition was a phenomenon that appeared after the health was down to 1/10.

Ark pushed the Demon Mouse with more boldness. But when his victory was almost assured, the Demon Mouse suddenly howled and sprang to its feet. Its front paw flew towards him with a speed incomparable to before.

“The hell, wh-what’s going on?” Ark barely managed to block the attacks and looked at the Demon Mouse with a devastated expression.

There were still 3 minutes to go until 10 minutes was up. But the paralysis must have completely worn off because the Demon Mouse was charging at him with full speed.

With one blink of the eye, Ark had been forced to go on defensive.

It was too much to defend against, let alone attack. He saw his health dropping each time he blocked an attack. After blocking about ten attacks, the sword shattered.

– The rusted iron sword’s durability has reached 0 and it has broken.

‘Damn it!’

At last, even the sword he’d believed in disappeared.

His remaining health was 23. Ark hurriedly downed the health restoration potion. However, the Demon Mouse didn’t miss that action and struck out with its front paw, hitting Ark’s chest. Fortunately, since he had used the health potion, his life was barely saved, but the situation was grim. Like the Demon Mouse, Ark’s body entered critical condition and his body became red.

‘Damn, what kind of situation is this…’

As he dodged the front paw that kept flying at him, Ark exploded in rage. Now he could only endure one hit, at best. If a second hit flew out at him, his cold head would undoubtedly hit the floor.

‘No, that can’t happen! If I give up here, then I have to give up this dungeon! If I’m to die, then I might as well bite the bullet! You damn mouse shit, I’ll take you down with me!’

Ark flung himself at the Demon Mouse. The front paw flew out and smacked his chest, but Ark didn’t withdraw. With all his strength concentrated on one hit, his fist struck the bastard’s forehead.

– With your Indomitable Will, you have found the Demon Mouse’s weakness. You have dealt a fatal blow.

In that moment, along with the flashing message, the Demon Mouse’s movements just… stopped.

The Demon Mouse reared, heaved a steaming breath, and collapsed with all its limbs splayed out. Then, the Demon Mouse’s appearance slowly turned transparent. With that, his situation became clear.

It was Ark’s victory!

“Is, is this it?”

As if to confirm his thoughts, there was a pleasant sound that accompanied his 1 level up.

His legs belatedly began to tremble, as though he had cramps. As he struggled to raise his head, his life was at just 2. While on the verge of death, in critical condition senses his attack power and chance of critical hits had risen. In addition, his Hand-to-Hand Combat skill’s hit chance and evasion added up so the damage he’d taken was a minimum, he was able to drag out the maximum damage for a miraculous victory.

“Ah, now isn’t the time to be standing around!” Ark, who was absent-mindedly staring at the Monster Rat for a brief time, suddenly raised his head.

There were still hundred-odd mice still left in the cave. If the paralysis wore off on the mice while his health was at rock bottom, he’d be finished then and there. Ark straightened and glared fiercely at the mice.

“Hey, you little mice shit! Shall I make you pay for all suffering you caused?”

Fear flashed into the eyes of the shivering, convulsing mice.

* * *

“Now, shall I take a look at the spoils?”

Ark, who had completely trampled and killed all hundred-odd mice, checked the spoils the Demon Mouse had dropped. But his expression quickly turned to one of disappointment. The Demon Mouse he’d finally killed after escaping the throes of death multiple times hadn’t dropped items that were as good as he’d hoped.

There was only a thick leather and a worn sword.

Black Bear Mouse Leather (Ingredient)The leather of the Demon Mouse, who watched over numerous mice inside the mysterious cave. It is strong enough to block a decent sword, and its ability to block the cold is excellent. It can’t be simply used, but if it is processed well, it looks like it can make quality armor.

“Armor… this looks pretty useful, huh?”

Corroded Sword

Weapon Type

One-Handed Sword

Attack Damage

1~4

Durability

20/20

Weight

15

Usage Restriction

None

The sword of someone the Demon Mouse ate. It is so corroded that its original form is hard to discern.It’s hard to expect much attack power from this sword.

“I guess I can’t use this.”

Ark shook his head, crestfallen. Even the Rusted Sword had 5~8 attack power. The Corroded Sword was much weaker than that. But it was too early to be disappointed.

There was still the dungeon’s treasure that the Demon Mouse had protected. With high hopes, Ark went to the back of the cave. However, even when he’d arrived at the dead end, he couldn’t see a worthwhile item anywhere.

“What, what’s this? Surely that’s not all?” Ark muttered with a dumbfounded face.

Then, as he was turning to go, something caught on his foot.

He looked down to find a slate with a chipped corner. When he lifted the slate, the information window popped up.

– You have acquired a mysterious slate.

The quest information window popped up.

The Secret of the Mysterious Slate

You have obtained the slate the Demon Mouse was guarding in the cave. It is an enigmatic slate containing a secret. The surface is covered with unknown characters. It appears that this is the item the dead person in the entryway was looking for. It would be good to deliver this to whoever needs it.

Difficulty: F

‘A quest item! Then is this connected to another quest?’

If that was the case, then this wasn’t a bad ending. It was a quest that linked with the original, after all. The task was from the single story of the linked quests. Though it would take a lot of effort and time, there were many cases of people resolving them to the end and earning a high level item.

It was too early to throw away his hopes on getting rich quick.

* * *

“W-What did you say? Did you say that you really got rid of the Demon Mouse?” A surprised Kraydon asked while looking at Ark.

Ark nodded grandly and showed him the leather.

“If it’s this big of leather, then it’s definitely the Demon Mouse. Very impressive.”

– You have dealt with the Demon Mouse! The quest is completed.

With a drumming sound he hadn’t heard in ages, the quest was completed.

– Your level has risen.

His level went up by 2 at the same time, bringing him up to level 13. Since he had resolved a quest that was impossible for a level 10 player, the rewards were that much greater. That was not all. As a reward, Kraydon gave him 10 Gold and told him to go to Hansen.

As soon as Hansen saw Ark, his spittle flew as he congratulated him. “I heard the news. You accomplished a truly huge feat! Since you gallantly stood against the colossal Demon Mouse and knocked it down, I can safely call you Mouse Master.”

You have received Harun Village’s Elder Hansen’s title of Mouse Master.

You have now become an expert at dealing with mice. When fighting mice, your attack power increases by 50%. In front of mice, the chance of landing a critical hit rises by 40%. Because you have become a master at fighting mice, the chance of evasion rises by 40%.

*The received title gives a bonus increase to all stats by 1.
*Fame increases by 100.

 

As a Mouse Master, the skill Spirit of the Cat has increased to Intermediate.

Spirit of the Cat (Intermediate, Active): The cat’s roar and flashing eyes have become more bloodthirsty, making mice and other similarly small monsters tremble in terror.Paralysis for 1 minute. Attack, defense, and fighting morale decreases by 20% (All mice, 50% effect applies to smaller monsters)

Mana consumption: 100

It was an additional bonus, awesome enough to make him faint.

Well, to complete the quest with normal methods, the user would have probably had to be at least level 15. Since a level 10 player had finished the quest on his own, he more than deserved the reward. Along with that, it was linked to another quest.

This was the definition of an opportunity.

‘Huhuhu, I may even have to thank Andel and Bulma.’

If he hadn’t been used by Andel and Bulma, Ark wouldn’t have even considered doing three hundred mice-catching quests. Thanks to enduring the lost stat restoration, point by point, an opportunity had opened up for him.

Of course, he didn’t really have any thoughts of thanking them. Earning this opportunity was the result of Ark’s own vicious perseverance. The desire for revenge that he harbored towards those bastards hadn’t softened at all.

“Take this as well.”
“What is that?”

“Granny Johansson, who you often took care of, passed away a few days ago. However, before she died, she did away with the little fortune she had. I was holding onto what she said she wanted to leave to you. It should be about 30 gold.”

Though she was an NPC, hearing that the person he’d personally taken care of had died made his heart heavy. Of course, despite that, Ark was not one to deny the offered money.

It was his duty to fulfill the will she had left.

Anyway, with this, Ark received a bonus of 12 stat points at only level 13. In addition, though he was at a level where he should only be getting copper coins as rewards, he had received a generous sum of money. After Ark pocketed the money, the slate suddenly came to mind and he asked.

“Grandpa, do you happen to know a Viscount named Haverstein?”

“Of course. Sir Viscount Haverstein is none other than the Lord Jackson who governs this district. But why are you asking me this so suddenly?”

“It’s nothing. I’m leaving, then.”

‘It’s simple. I’ve completed gathering information on the next quest…. Now I just have to prepare for my journey.’

With an open smile, Ark found the Smithy. Then, he extended the Demon Mouse leather and requested the manufacture of leather armor. He also left the corroded sword in their care. It was because he had no replacement for the rusty iron sword that broke.

After placing the item in their care, and waiting a day, he went back to reclaim it and the repair on the armor and sword was complete. With an examination of the resulting items, he found the initially disappointing spoils transformed to what he’d originally expected.

The Smithy owner spoke with a boastful expression.

“Since it was your request, I used the best of my skills.”

Black Bear Mouse Leather Armor (Enchanted)

Armor Type

Leather Armor

Defense

40

Durability

90/90

Weight

20

Usage Restriction

None

Armor made from the leather of the Demon Mouse that was watching over the mysterious cave. Its elasticity is outstanding, and because it is covered with strong, coarse fur, its defense is considerable. Its ability to block the cold is especially outstanding, so for wintertime travelers, it is the best armor.

Option: Agility 2, Cold Resistance 20

 

Sharply Shining Sword (Enchanted)

Weapon Type

One-Handed Sword

Attack Damage

8~12

Durability

20/20

Weight

15

Usage Restriction

None

A sword created by whetting the Corroded Sword to a keen edge. Although the durability has fallen because the edge was sharpened to great thinness, its sharpness is without peer. It is comfortable to use because of its light weight.It is better for a beginner to use than a long sword.

Option: Attack speed +5

Of course, they fell a little short from the Smithy’s top leather armor and long sword.

However, those items were nothing more than displays.

If you considered the enormous sum of gold demanded as their prices, no matter how much a user saved money, they’d have to be at least level 20~25 to be able to finally buy those. On the other hand, Ark had been able to acquire enchanted equipment with Options at level 13—he had truly struck it rich.

He also had the inheritance from Granny Johansson and the money he’d earned from brokering the equipment repairs with users. He’d made 60 gold in just 25 days in Harun Village.

Compared to the beginning, he had made great strides.

Ark talked with all the people of Harun Village. He thought there might possibly be another hidden quest. However, there weren’t any NPCs who gave him any more quests even when he asked a few times. If that was the case, then there wasn’t a need for him to linger in the beginner village any longer.

Ark quickly organized his gear and strode onwards to Jackson Castle in search of Viscount Haverstein.

* * *

“Have all of the applicant reports come in?”
“Yes, we are currently reading them.”

“Are there any guys that caught your interest?”
“Quite a few.”

Kim Gwon Tae sorted through a few pages of the report and handed them to Ha Myung Woo.

The applicants in Global Exos’ recruitment exam submitted scheduled reports, which allowed the evaluators to clearly track the applicant’s progress.

As he glanced through the report, Ha Myung Woo asked with a surprised expression, “Hoho, it’s only been twenty days, but are there 20 users who are already at level 50?”

Compared to other games, it was 3~4 times harder to level up in New World.

In other words, if they had been playing another game, they would have reached level 150~200 in just twenty days. It was an unprecedented speed.

“Naturally, it’s a number that’s impossible to reach by playing the game normally. Although they’ve written in the reports as having done it on their own strength, there seems to be an immense number of people who have supported them. Though it’s not the method we wanted, do you think it will be okay?”

“Didn’t you predict this much from the beginning?” Ha Myung Woo replied airily, as if it wasn’t a big deal.

Since the very beginning of their plan to pick an employee from the game’s result, they had predicted the troublesome collaboration to some extent.

It was a test to enter the world-renowned corporation, Global Exos.

There were bound to be people who were pouring an outrageous sum of money into the game, and there would also be people who requested their family, relatives, and even their friends to mobilize and support them. In the end, the applicants who had been watching until now chose to use similar methods. If the applicants were that enthusiastic and absorbed, then it wasn’t such a bad thing for Ha Myung Woo.

“Funding and making use of personal connections are also skills. That’s why we allowed even the idiots who faked their resumes to participate. If mongrels like them cling more desperately, the exam standards are going to naturally rise. In a situation where we can’t directly participate in the system, there’s no better method than that.”

“Are you considering accepting any of them?”
“As if.” Ha Myung Woo laughed as if he was telling him not to joke. “We merely needed users we could control. How are the others?”

“They’re approximately level 30~40. It would be less if they used normal methods.”

“And what about the ones you pulled out?” Ha Myung Woo gestured at the reports piled up on one side of the table.

“Ah, those are the people who are playing the game with rather unique methods.”
“Unique methods?”

“Yes. Should I say they’re stupid, or should I say they’re brilliant… They’re circulating in the lowest of the levels. In a sense, they have been taking full advantage of the system. Even among them, these fellows have caught my eye. Will you take a look?”

Kim Gwon Tae extended two reports. One of them was on an applicant named ‘Shambala.’ The other was on ‘Ark.’ It was Kim Hyun Woo’s report.

As he scanned through the reports, Ha Myung Woo shook his head and laughed. Both of them were still under level 20.

“What we want isn’t a person who properly enjoys the game. We want a person who can properly utilize and cunningly move forward in the game.”
“Isn’t it true that levels aren’t everything in new world?”
“Of course. But their level can indicate and judge their skill.”
“Well, that’s true.”
“If you want to properly furrow into a game, then you’ve got to be smart. It’s hard to say that a person who couldn’t even get to level 20 in twenty days has a good head. Erase them from the consideration list. And didn’t this one fake his resume?”
“Is he eliminated after all?”
“There’s no way we can read all 2000 reports each time they come in. We’ll need to thin them out in the process. Still, we don’t need to inform them of their disqualification right now. While we’re testing we need to be ‘fair’, after all. It’s bothersome if curs like him get scared and pull out.”
“I understand.”

The reports of Gwak Yong and Kim Hyun Woo were thrown into the shredder. On the applicant list, ‘DISQUALIFIED’ was written in red letters by their names.

* * *

“For the past few days, your cheeks have been sunken in like a person who hasn’t slept enough. Did something difficult happen? Well, why wouldn’t it be difficult…..” His mom, who was looking at him pitiably, heaved a sigh.

When she worried about him with her quavering voice, her pale white face, and thin vein, bony arms that were pierced with 3~4 needle drips, Hyun Woo’s heart ached.

Truthfully, her concerns weren’t unfounded. After Hyun Woo connected to New World, he hadn’t been able to sleep properly.

‘The game is as important as my real life. I’m behind in comparison to the other applicants, and though I don’t have a lot of time to concentrate on the game, I knew it was gonna be tough from the start. That’s right. Like Team Leader said, if succeeding or failing the exam isn’t simply based on level, even I might have a chance. As long as there’s hope, I can’t just dejectedly give up.’

Having made his resolution, Hyun Woo had only slept 3 hours a day and devoted himself to the game.

And for the last few days, after he started to fight the Demon Mouse, he’d spent the nights with hardly a wink of sleep. Even this morning, he’d briefly slipped into a nap before his alarm went off and he hastily slapped some clothes on and left.

With his haggard face and grubby clothes, he was definitely in bad shape. However, Hyun Woo answered with a falsely bright face. “Nothing difficult happened.”

“I’m sorry. I’m called a parent, but I’m just being baggage…”
“I told you it’s not like that. It’s just that I’ve been playing around with my friends until late at night these days, so I kinda haven’t gotten enough sleep.”
“But if I wasn’t like this, right now even university….”

“Mother.” Hyun Woo abruptly grasped his mother’s hand and smiled. “I’m really perfectly okay. Honestly, I like working a lot more than going to university. Work is fun, and my coworkers treat me well too. There are also people who always help me, too. There’s no reason for you to worry, Mother. Ah, there is one thing that’s difficult.”

“What is it?”
“That I can’t eat the mixed noodles (bibimgooksul)1 you make.”
“You little… Saying such pointless words….”
“It’s the truth. That’s the only food I really want to eat. Although I tried to imitate it, the taste wasn’t right. So get better quickly and make it for me, please. Okay?”
“Alright. Okay.”

Hyun Woo shot a wink at her and chattered, and finally his mother laughed.

Although he had integrity, his personality wasn’t charming. In the past, he wouldn’t have even been able to imagine saying words like these. But somewhere along the line, in a way that was strange to even him, these kinds of words slowly came out.

This was also one of the effects of playing New World.

‘To think that I could use the experience from taking care of Granny Johansson like this.’

When Hyun Woo had taken care of Johansson in Harun Village, there had been things he’d naturally learned.

At first, it had just been a quest that he’d taken while crying to himself to get to the next one. As repeated the quest, he had realized something. The rewards correlated to how well Hyun Woo treated her—the better he did, the more the reward.

The default reward was 1 Silver, but there were cases when he received more than that if he poured all his heart into nursing her. The time it took was the same anyways, so it was much better if he could receive 1 more Silver.

After finding out about that, Hyun Woo was able to dive into the words and actions Johansson wanted in advance.

What was fun was that his trained senses from the game could transfer to reality too. Although he couldn’t use the Nursing skill from the game to increase vigor and courage, just making his mother feel better was not a problem.

It was a small, unnoticeable change, but it made his mother’s expression brighten.

‘Why wasn’t I able to do something this simple for her in the past?’ With that alone, Hyun Woo felt that playing New World was worth it.

“Then I’ll stop by again the morning after tomorrow. I’ll leave the fruit here, so please eat them when you can.”

Hyun Woo put down the fruit basket and energetically turned around. After hearing from the doctor that fruits would help with the treatment, Hyun Woo always bought her a fruit basket once a week. Though it was the Hyun Woo who couldn’t bear to buy himself one ramen, if it would help his mother recover, he would buy her her not just fruit, but wild ginseng2.

Hyun Woo dragged his exhausted, sleep-deprived body to the Mart.

After laboring for 6 hours a day while moving heavy crates here and there and stacking them, the monthly wage he received was 1,500,000 Won (USD$1,500). In addition, he earned 2,000,000 Won (USD$2,000) from working 3 part-time jobs, each one 3 hours long.

Global Exos paid their employees 1,500,000 Won (USD$1,500) a month. The amount Hyun Woo earned by working 15 hours a day was 5,000,000 Won (USD$5,000) a month.

With his income, he could barely cover his mother’s hospital fees and living expenses, the interest on loans, and since he needed to repay the payments for her to be discharged, no matter how much he tightened his belt, he lived a continuously suffocating life. So no matter how difficult it was or how much his body hurt, he could not stop working.

Hyun Woo shook his head vigorously.

‘Mother is suffering many times more than I am. Yeah, I can’t say weak things and the like.’

After finally finishing a bout of work, Hyun Woo squeezed in between some boxes and briefly closed his eyes.

The reason why he was able to endure with 1 hour of sleep a day was that he slept while riding the subway, or he napped a little in his spare time at work. Of course, those sweet moments of respite were only possible thanks to his co-worker Hye Sun’s help….

“Oppa, oppa!”

At the sound of someone shaking him awake, Hyun Woo sluggishly opened his eyes.

Hye Sun was shaking him with an anxious look on her face.

“Huh? What’s going on? Did the wares come in?”
“A call came in saying they’re coming in a little bit. The owner is gonna come down soon.”

“Alright, I’d better wake up if I don’t want to be nagged at.” Hyun Woo muttered as he thoroughly stretched himself.

Hye Sun asked with a worried look in her eyes. “Oppa, did you take on yet another part-time job?”

“Huh? Nah. On the other hand I’ve dropped a few of ‘em.”
“Then why are you drowsing like this whenever you can these days?”

“Yeah, that’s….” Hyun Woo scratched his head and made a sheepish look. “The truth is, lately I’ve been playing a game at home.”

“Oppa plays games too?”
“What’s this? In the past, there was a time when I played games like crazy. As soon as it was the weekend, if I clicked my mouse the night was spent, and if I drummed away at my keyboard it was already dawn. There are over 3~4 online games where I reached the max levels.”

In those days, he really didn’t know how the days passed and was completely absorbed in the game. His parents were on the lenient side, so he didn’t even have any memories of getting scolded for playing games. But as his life started to turn upside down, everything else had become insignificant.

No matter how hard he tried to concentrate on his game, the burdensome reality got in the way. There hadn’t been a game that engrossed him enough to let him forget reality.

‘I’ll probably never be able to comfortably play games again.’

That’s what he had thought. But lately, those past sensations were reviving in Hyun Woo.

He was so immersed in New World that he was able to forget his goal of playing the game to get employed by Global Exos. That’s why his sleeping time had steadily dropped, and he was so exhausted that he could say his body and mind were ‘running on empty fumes’.

It was to the point that he’d completely blanked out on even the report– he remembered two days before the due date and hurriedly wrote one up and submitted it.

Even so, the time he spent playing the game was truly enjoyable. And he wanted to go into the Global Exos that had created such a game. However, it was highly unlikely. Hyun Woo had learned less and had nothing compared to the other candidates. And he was definitely short on time.

Although the competition ratio was 1 in 200, in reality Hyun Woo was up against 1900 people. He could only conclude that there was a greater chance of rejection than acceptance. That’s why Hyun Woo wanted to enjoy New World as much as he could. He had to return the 10,000,000 Won (USD$10,000) unit when the test was over.

‘If I return the unit, with my income, I probably won’t be able to play it again. Even for the sake of playing New World, I want to get accepted. No, I will. I have to believe that I can.’

His apprehension from faking his resume still remained. But seeing as Global Exos hadn’t noticed all this time, could he somehow fool them to the very end? He wanted to believe that he could.

As Hye Sun watched Hyun Woo lost in thought, her eyes suddenly widened.

“Then what’s the game oppa’s been playing lately?”
“Why are you asking that?”
“Well, if it’s fun I want to try too.”
“You’ve played a game before?”
“Of course.”
“What was it?”

“Mmm, well… what was it… the dancing one3…” Hye Sun mumbled with a frown.

“This game is totally different game from those. And even if you know what it is, it’s too much for you to play.”
“Tch, what exactly is it to make you say that?”
“It’s called New World, it came out recently.”

“N-New World?” Hye Sun’s eyes got round.

“You know it?”
“Of course. That is… you’re right. I saw it in a newspaper once. But doesn’t it take a huge amount of money to play that game? ‘Cause of that unit or whatever.”

“Somehow or another, I got to play it for free.”
“Somehow or another?”

“I can’t really explain it to you in detail. Ah, I heard there are game rooms where units are installed nowadays. The fees are a little expensive, but if you have the chance, try it once. Just trying it once is going to be better than having me explain it a hundred times.”

Then, a truck topped to the brim with wares entered the warehouse, and Hyun Woo quickly ran towards it with a loading cart.

Hye Sun watched Hyun Woo’s back and nodded her head as if she had made some kind of resolution.

“He said it was New World, huh?”


 

1. Mixed noodles is Korean spicy noodles.

 

2. Wild ginseng, sansam, is very rare and precious. It is prized for its medicinal properties and can easily reach $500 per pound.

 

3. She is referring to DDR, Dance Dance Revolution, or something similar.

 

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2016-11-02T22:27:16+00:00September 13th, 2013|[X / KR] Ark|38 Comments