Ark: Volume 1 Chapter 5

//Ark: Volume 1 Chapter 5

Ark: Volume 1 Chapter 5

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


Viscount Haverstein’s Revenge

New World, the continent where sunlight-like peace can be obtained through the blessings of God.

However, the trails left behind by history were carved with blood and violence.

There had been a turbulent period in the history of New World, so far past that no one could even recall.

Thousands of races broke off into various factions, creating endless wars. Blood was washed away with more blood, corpses were blanketed with more corpses. What ended this tumultuous era was not a force of righteousness. It was wickedly evil beyond compare.

The devil incarnate did not differentiate between races and attacked everyone. With immense strength, it dyed the continent in black blood.

All the races were like newborn babies before the devil incarnate. They stilled their breaths and trembled at the chaos and horror. It was the start of the so-called Dark Century.

But it is the law of the world that as the darkness deepens, a more brilliant light will arise. So when the devil incarnate’s war situation reached its climax, there were those who broke free with light and rose.

The 7 heroes whose names were left in history’s path.

3 of them were Human, and the others were Dwarf, Elf, Orc and the Beast hero they called Maban.

At the center of the continent, they formed a strong alliance. Then the sound of moaning changed to shouts of victory. One by one, as they carved the records of great wars the 7 heroes were finally able to defeat the devil incarnate.

With the disappearance of the devil incarnate, the 7 heroes spoke of what they desired amongst themselves.

“I desire spacious and fertile earth.”

The three Human heroes received three kingdoms on New World.

“I desire a forest overflowing with life.”

“For me a hot fire and rock’s strength!”

“A damp bog and barren wilderness for me.”

The Elf received rights to the forest, the Dwarf the underground, and the Orc the wasteland.

Their eyes looked toward Hero Maban.

Hero Maban spoke with a bitter smile.

“I wish to watch over the blood vow that you made in your hearts.”
“That vow will be kept.”
“Then that is enough.”

Hero Maban spoke those words and disappeared.

The kingdoms the six heroes erected became the present New World. And for over 200 years, New World reached its Golden Age and prospered.

But this time was not only prosperous.

Following the flow of time, the pledge of friendship the six heroes had shared slowly but surely faded away. 200 years was plenty of time to forget the horror and honors of the past.

The vow splintered. And the crack was largely spreading in a way that anyone could see.

* * *

“Hm, this time should I try putting this one in?”

Ark pushed the herb he’d been holding into the pot.

Then the liquid within the pot turned reddish and shortly firmed up like pudding.

After staring at the pudding with a serious expression, he clenched his eyes shut and spooned in the pudding. The feeling of his weak stomach becoming completely full was accompanied by a surge of energy.

You have created Nutritious Jelly with Survival Cooking.Satiety has been filled to 100% and within 10 seconds 200 health will be restored.

For 10 minutes strength and stamina increase by 2. Wisdom and Intelligence are reduced by 2.

“Nice, it’s a success this time.”

Ark blew out a sigh of relief and stored the pudding in his bag.

After his departure from Harun Village, Ark had purposely left the road and diverged into the forest. After actually leaving the village, the users who went to Jackson Castle were mostly at about level 15.

Of course, if you just looked at his stats Ark was also in a state of being over level 10. Still, being at a lower level than others made him feel uneasy.

The level was an absolute number in the game. That his level was falling meant that he was that much weaker!

That’s why he was in the process of completely wiping out any Wild Dogs and Wolves he saw as he cut through the forest. When he killed over two hundred Wild Dogs and Wolves like that, Ark reached level 16. Thanks to that, his sword and armor transformed to a ragged mess, which would crumble if he touched them.

‘I should learn the Repair skill when I arrive at Jackson Castle.’

If the precious equipment he struggled to obtain had cracked, he wouldn’t even be able to sleep for a few days.

Ark changed his equipment to leather clothing for the time being and and concentrated on gathering.

He intended to use this chance to raise his Survival Cooking level as well.

At first he thought about erasing the skill after seeing the creation of a ridiculous food and learning ordinary cooking, but hunting the demon mouse had enlightened him of the usefulness of Survival Cooking.

‘I can use it whether it’s poison or food.’

But even though he resolved himself and tried to raise it, it wasn’t easy.

Survival Cooking was not regular cooking. He couldn’t simply mix any ingredients he wanted to create results. When the combination didn’t match at all, with an explosion the ingredients would all go to waste.

At last, after over one hundred attempts, Ark had successfully made 15 dishes, including Fragrant Poison Soup. Out of those the only ones worth using were Howling Seasoned Chili, Refreshing Herb Tea, and the recent success Nutritional Jelly.

The Howling Seasoned Chilies was an enormously strong-tasting food that had the effect of temporarily increasing Strength by 10. But after that effect disappeared the user was plunged into a state of Confusion for several minutes, so it was an incomparably dangerous food. After eating this Ark had fought five Wolves and had almost died.

The Refreshing Herb Tea was a tea that restored Mana. It was incredibly delicious, and Ark frequently made and drank it while on his journey.

So as he did the things he’d been unable to do until now because he’d been fighting mice, his skill rose by a lot and he even earned 2 new skills.

Passive SkillSword Mastery (Beginner:26/100) You do not receive weapon penalties even if you use a sword.

Hand-to-hand Combat (Beginner:24/100) Whenever you fight bare-handed, your Attack Power, Accuracy, and Evasion are increased.

Survival Cooking (Beginner:22/100) You can make unidentified dishes with ingredients obtained from nature.

Indomitable Will (Beginner:27/100) When in critical condition, your Attack Power, Critical Hit Chance, and ability to recover are increased.

Foraging (Beginner:29/100) Food ingredients from nature can be gathered.

 

Active SkillNursing (Beginner:21/100) Gives hope, energy, and courage to patients. Mana consumption 10.

Spirit of the Cat (Intermediate:103/300) Plants horror in mice and small monsters, sealing off their movements; Attack Power, Defense. and morale are sharply decreased. Mana consumption 100.

 

Ingredient Identification (Beginner, Passive): Can confirm the basic effects of food ingredients that you obtain from the Foraging skill.Because your knowledge in food ingredients has risen, when you Forage you will no longer sustain damage from ingredients.

Indomitable Body (Beginner, Passive): Even if you confront fairly dangerous situations, you are granted the fortitude to endure them.

Your excellent Defense will shine more brightly in difficult situations.

Emergency Defense, Evasion of Fatal Blows increased by 30%. Recovery ability increased by 5%.

The Ingredient Identification seemed to be a skill that added to Survival Cooking. In any case, knowing whether the harvested ingredient was poisonous or not was a good thing. Because then he’d be able to decrease the probability of failure a little.

The truly unexpected skill was Indomitable Body. After squeezing his eyes shut and eating every one hundred plus dish he’d made with Survival Cooking, the Indomitable Body skill had naturally formed. For that kind of a skill to form meant that Survival Cooking was really dangerous.

Ark was satisfied with that much.

“Now that the ingredients are all used up, shall I go?”

Ark shouldered his bag and began to walk again.

Though it was dawn in reality, in New World it was morning.

As he hefted his bag and walked through the forest, a cool wind tickled his face. The smell of grass permeated his nostrils and washed clean his chest.

Though he had thought and marveled about it many times, New World was beyond the classification of a normal game after all. As its name proclaimed, New World was literally a new world.

But what Ark had experienced was still less than 1 out of 100 of New World.

Ark keenly realized this truth after he crossed a hill.

“Oh……!”

His exclamation naturally burst out.

Endless unfurled plains before a towering citadel city that rose into the sky. The truth that a building made of black stones could be so beautiful was simply shocking. But the Harun Village NPCs had said that Jackson Castle was not such a big city in New World.

‘It’s unbelievable, but that must mean that there are cities that are bigger and more awesome than this.’

After thinking that thought, his heart fluttered like a youth’s.

Anyway, he’d finally parted from the beginner area and had arrived at the real meaning of a city.

When he went into the castle, it wasn’t as beautiful as he’d thought from what he’d seen outside. But the castle was overflowing with vitality.

Now when it came to writing someone off as a beginner from the people there were users at level 50~60, and the streets that couldn’t be compared to the ones in Harun Village were chock full of crowds. The reason was that there were numerous unexplored dungeons left in the area around Jackson Castle.

“For those who’d enjoy warmth and coziness, please come to Hades Guild.”

“If you’re a valiant warrior who wants to experience the battlefield, to Black Axe Guild!”

“The best priced rods, selling at the minimum price! ‘Tis Nook’s Stall.”

“Those who need a mercenary, please contact me.”

He heard shouts from every direction. The bulletin boards laid on every street corner publicized guilds and shops, and the boards were pasted full of flyers for getting parties.

With stalls covered with items strewn about on the ground it wasn’t even easy for people to walk. Having spent over twenty days in the carefree and quiet Harun Village, Ark had unintentionally become a hick and could not adapt easily.

Besides the unexplored dungeons, what made Jackson Castle this bustling was that the NPCs related to job changing and the NPCs associated with guilds were all gathered here.

The guilds were an extremely important element in the game.

If many beginners gathered they could even gain more information, and they were very helpful when trying to accomplish difficult requests. That’s why every guild representative’s eyes were lit up in order to procure even just one more high-level user. But Ark had no thoughts of joining a guild.

The first reason was his deep-rooted mistrust of users. The second was that even if he sometimes forgot, his motivation for playing the game was different from other users. To Ark, New World wasn’t simply a game, but an employment exam. It’d be tough to needlessly join a guild and waste time doing useless things.

What Ark was interested in was the job change possible from level 15.

It was the biggest reason why users flocked to Jackson Castle after reaching level 15.

In New World, there were twelve broad classes of jobs.

Warrior, Archer, Magician, Thief, Priest and so on… and if you went into details there were several branches included in each class of job. So one would do up to 2 or 3 job changes.

“Stat.”

Character Name

Ark

Race

Human

Alignment

None

Fame

150

Level

16

Profession

None

Title

Mouse Hunter

Health

360

Mana

100

Strength

67

Agilitiy

77 (+2)

Stamina

67

Wisdom

16

Intelligence

17

Luck

17

Equipment Effects

Sharply Shining Sword: Attack speed +5
Black Bear Mouse Leather Armor: Agility +2, Cold Resistance +20

Though they were meager stats, if meager at all, but considering that he was level 16, they were at a decent level.

If you just looked at his stats, his wisdom and intelligence were too low for him to choose a profession in the magic division. The jobs that matched him were combat-related; up until now Ark had mostly done combat, so he’d unconsciously poured all his stats in Strength, Agility, and Stamina.

‘Should I just use this chance to job change to a Warrior?’

Even if they were the same level 15, the difference between a character that had job changed and one that hadn’t was enormous.

If he changes profession, he would learn new skills that were particular to the job, and a lot of bonus stats would be added. In addition, if he did the job change quest, he would acquire the matching branch of that Profession.

It was truly like turning over a new leaf!

But Ark shook his head.

‘I don’t even know the job characteristics properly yet…’

Ark hadn’t seen any scenes of job-changed users fighting yet.

Although he could basically see the characteristics of the classified jobs just by looking at their names, there were slight differences between each game.

What skills would form, what skills he couldn’t learn if he job changed, he had to meticulously consider them and make a decision. It wasn’t a matter he could just choose based on his mood without personally experiencing them.

‘In New World, Ark is my one and only alter ego. I’ve gotta choose carefully.’

If it was another game he could job change and if he didn’t like it he could just raise a new one. But there was only one chance to choose in New World. There could be no limit to his cautiousness.

‘Okay, for now I’ll hunt with Jackson Castle as my base and watch job-changed users. ‘Cause right now I’ve got other things to do too.’

Ark opened his bag and looked over the slate with an affectionate glance.

It was the Mysterious Slate that the demon mouse had watched over. When Ark looked at the slate, he sank into a feeling of delight. Ark had earned many benefits simply from the journey to find this slate.

He’d earned 12 bonus stats, and he’d learned Survival Cooking for free. On top of that, he’d earned 2 of the enchanted equips that were difficult to see at his level. It was enjoyable to simply entertain the thoughts of what other benefits this linked quest might bring him.

‘For that I’ll have to meet Viscount Haverstein first.’

Ark went and found the Lord’s castle with hurried steps.

“What do you need?”

As he’d been wandering about as a hillbilly wrapped in some kind of animal leather, the guard glared at him.

Well, it was a virtual reality game, so he’d expected that response.

“I have come to meet Viscount Haverstein-nim.”
“What? You mean the Lord?”
“Yes, if you show him this he will probably meet with me.”

Ark pulled out the parchment he’d discovered in the cave.

The guard shot him a doubtful glance and went into the castle. After about 10 minutes had passed, he ran back outside along with a man. He was a middle-aged knight with a bushy bearded face. Seeing as he was wearing modest chain mail, it looked like he wasn’t Viscount Haverstein.

The middle-aged knight introduced himself as Cross, the General of Defense in charge of the castle’s guards. Once Ark also introduced himself simply, Cross asked with an urgent voice.

“Alright, Ark. Were you the one who discovered this parchment?”
“Yes.”

“Did you by any chance discover some strange item near the place where the parchment was?”
“I discovered it.”

Ark quickly took out the slate from his bag and showed it to Cross.

Cross blew out the breath he’d been holding.

“I don’t know whether I should call this the guidance of God, or the devil’s prank.”

“What do you mean?”

“That slate is an item Viscount Haverstein-nim has been searching for a long time. However, none of the people he sent to find the slate have returned.”

“What is this slate for?”

“I don’t know the details either. I only know that it’s connected to the ruins that were discovered near this territory. As the years passed and its whereabouts couldn’t be found, Viscount Haverstein gave up on the slate in the end. And then he struck off for the ruins while leading the Slyphid Knights. But for the slate to appear after the Viscount left…”

Cross clasped Ark’s hand tightly and requested.

“If it’s okay, can’t you personally deliver the slate to the Viscount? If you hurry and follow him now, you might be able to catch the Viscount before he arrives at the ruins.”

At the same time, the quest name was updated to ‘Secret of the Slate = Secret of the Slate II’. The content was about meeting Haverstein, who had left for the ruins that held a connection to the slate.

‘Wahahaha, this is it. I’ve been waiting for something like this.’

As a spark fizzed into Ark’s mind, the formula of ‘quest + dungeon = huge treasure’ arose.

There was no reason to hesitate. Ark quickly nodded. Cross gave him a horse and 2 soldiers.

No matter how busy he was, he had to take care of some business before he left. Ark found the blacksmith, had all his equipment repaired, and mounted the horse. But it was impossible for Ark, who organized a mart warehouse in reality, to have ever ridden a horse.

“Eehuk, eeeeeuhhh!”

Thinking since it’s a game, it should work out somehow, was a mistake.

Before he was able to go a few kilometers he rolled and fell off the horse five times. He paled beside the soldiers, who held the reins of Ark’s horse for him.

“Put your strength in your thighs and lay flat on the back of your horse. We shall guide the horse.”

* * *

“Can’t, can’t we rest a little before we go?”

“If we were to follow and catch the Viscount before he arrives at the ruins, there is not a moment to be lost. Giddy up!”

‘Damn it, I’m sayin’ I’ll DIE before we arrive!’

Though his stomach churned, there was nothing good about (antagonizing) the NPCs who were affiliated with the lord’s castle.

Despite that, for the sake of the new skill he had learned, he had to endure.

– Riding skill has risen by 3. Horse riding is a little bit easier.

The Riding skill that formed when he was about to hurl (went up by 3 when the urge to spring away penetrated his lower back and he desperately restrained himself.) After that Ark was able to straighten his back and hold the reins himself. And so after a day and a night of spurring the horses on like crazy, the hazy shape of the ruins appeared.

Thankfully it seemed like they weren’t late, as the sight of the Slyphid Knights gathered at the ruin entrance came into view.

Ark and the soldiers he’d come together with got off their horses and ran over.

“My Lord, we found the slate!”
“What?”

The person who turned his head was a noble of approximately sixty years of age.

His coarse, white hair fell to his shoulders, and his face looked blue from lack of oxygenation. But his eyes shined with a penetrating light. This was precisely Viscount Haverstein.

With a dignified gait, he approached Ark.

“Are you the traveler who brought the slate? Can you show me?”
“Yes.”

“There is no doubt. This is exactly the slate I was looking for.”

After Ark pulled out the slate for him, Haverstein looked over it with squinted, trembling eyes for a long while.He needed a very long time before he was able to turn his eyes on Ark again.

“You probably cannot even imagine what a huge help your good deed has become for me. The rule is that good deeds have a price. Therefore, I, Haverstein, have a responsibility to reward your pains. Say what you desire. If it is the request of a man of your merit, I will listen to anything.”

Starlight rustled and fell from Ark’s pupils.

He could finally receive the reward he’d waited and waited for.

And that he would listen to anything!

‘Should I ask for a magic item? Or should I ask for money?’

As Ark agonized over this and that, he belatedly discovered something strange. Then he noticed the cleverly hidden trap in the words of Haverstein’s quest.

“It’s a request appropriate of my merit?”

Thinking carefully about it, it was a peerlessly ambiguous statement.

Though Haverstein had said ‘anything’, the condition ‘appropriate of merit’ was attached. In the end that meant there was a upper limit. But since the merit wasn’t simply put out in numbers, he couldn’t know what the limit was. Then what method could he use to guess the upper limit?

‘It’s the difficulty!’

Ark opened the quest window and checked it. The difficulty was G. From what he’d experience so far, this kind of difficulty would only earn him a reward of 1 gold at most, or a follow-up item.

‘Is that all I can earn with this quest?’

His feeling of excitement disappeared and was replaced by dismay.

To obtain the slate, he’d had to kill hundreds of mice and defeat the demon mouse. He’d raced the horse to meet Haverstein to the point where his back had almost broken. But the reward was just 1 gold?

Then yet another question rose in Ark’s mind.

‘Is pulling out this slate truly the end? But then why did the General of Defense send me all the way here? He could have just used the soldiers. And the quest says to meet Haverstein, but there’s nothing written about giving him the slate. That’s right, this is a branched quest!”

A branched quest was one that changed based on the user’s choice.

At the end of many inferences, Ark was sure that this was a branched quest. A different quest related to the slate. In other words, the way to obtain the real reward that Ark wanted was different.

Ark suddenly raised his head and replied.

“What I desire is to go into the ruins with the Viscount.”

“What? You can’t do that!”

“Why do you say that? Since I brought the slate that’s related to the ruins, I think I’m qualified enough. Did the Viscount not promise a reward appropriate for my merits after all?”

“Do you not know? I’m saying this for your own good. That ruin is not just a commonplace dungeon. This is the lair where the devil incarnate is holed up in. I can’t drag in a civilian like you inside that place!”

“Are you breaking the promise that you yourself made?”

Ark pressed Haverstein with a sharp voice.

One should always maintain a good relationship with the NPCs. That was Ark’s ironbound principle. But it was a different matter if there was an even greater profit on the line.

There were many ways to re-raise intimacy that had fallen, but there were no ways to get back a quest item that he’d failed to hold onto. Whether the NPC was a Lord or a Viscount, if it was necessary he would even go into a head-on clash to obtain the profit.

“You’re really… guk, cough, cough!”

Haverstein, who had been glaring at Ark, suddenly fell to one knee as he vomited blood.

“My Lord!”

The soldiers who’d been in the area urgently rushed over. But there was a person who rushed and helped Haverstein quicker than they. It was Ark.

“Please leave him to me. I have a lot of experience in taking care of patients.”

As he quickly used the Nursing skill, the color returned to Haverstein’s face.

Ark spoke as he furtively smiled.

“You seem deeply ill. To explore the ruins with a body like this… and isn’t it true that there aren’t any people here who know how to take care of a patient?”

“I don’t need a caretaker or whatever. Cough, cough!”

“No, I can see the state of a patient. You will not be able to walk, let alone swing a sword, like this. Surely you do not wish to become baggage to your subordinates by flaunting your pride?”

“How-however….”

“Please give me permission to nurse you, my Lord. No, you must do so. I too am merely a caretaker. I cannot just leave a patient and walk away.”

Ark spoke with a resolute expression.

Haverstein heaved a sigh.

It was a sigh acknowledging his defeat.

When the ringing sound of drumbeats followed,Ark was sure that his choice had been the right one.

Quest has been updated.Secret of the Slate II = Secret of the Slate III

You must explore the ruin with Viscount Haverstein to uncover the secret of the slate.

Term for quest failure: If Viscount Haverstein dies, you will automatically lose the quest.

Difficulty:+E

* * *

“Attack, sweep away the accursed monsters!”

“Ooohhaaaahhh!”

Over 50 Sylphid Knights stampeded and bravely swung swords and maces.

The Gargoyles and Goblins obstructing their way jumped out, explosively. Then, in the hands of the Magicians, flames burst out and turned the passageway into an inferno. The Goblins swallowed in the path of fire let out horrible shrieks and crawled out, but what was waiting for them was a baptism of swords and maces.

Clearing scores of monsters didn’t even take 10 minutes.

Ark was watching the battle with surprised eyes.

‘Strong.’

Two days had passed since they had entered the ruin.

The insides of the ruin was tangled with complicated, maze-like paths, so it was impossible to distinguish the path, or be aware of the direction. And every time they went around a corner, an incredible number of monsters charged at them. However, they were no match for the Sylphid Knights.

They were knights that the lord had personally led here. Even their equipment was on a different level from ordinary soldiers. They were Knights armed with shining armor and weapons. And their related skills must be at an extremely high level, because they were able to defend every attack with their shields, and whenever they swung their swords, fatal blows were dealt.

It was the first time he’d seen an NPC’s battle — the high level was to the point where he went and lost his confidence.

After finishing a bout of fighting, a cross mark appeared above the heads of the Knights. It was a sign that indicated their level up.

‘Just how much of a level do those guys have?’

Levels existed for NPCs, too. Of course, if they won many fights, their level would go up. However, the NPCs themselves didn’t know about the concept of levels. If you asked them what their level was, they would return the question, asking what that was. And if you tried to explain it in detail, they would suddenly get mad.

In New World, the vocabulary level, skill, and stats were foreign to them; in other words, those were just users’ terms.

Even magic or skills that let them peek at someone’s information window didn’t get through to the NPCs. Therefore, there was no way to confirm it, but it was definite that they were at a much higher level than Ark.

‘Anyways, if I stay with them there should be no risk of death.’

The updated Secret of the Slate quest’s difficulty was a staggering +E.

It was a quest at a level where it’d be impossible to solve it by himself, no matter what he did. But if he did it with the Sylphid Knights, it didn’t even look like it’d be that difficult.

The problem was the condition of Haverstein’s survival.

After they entered the ruin, Haverstein’s health become increasingly weak. Ark, who had learned the Nursing skill, could tell that he didn’t have much life left. If, by any chance, Haverstein died before the completion of the quest, the quest would end in a failure and the Sylphid Knights would return to Jackson Castle.

That was the reason why a quest where he didn’t even need to personally fight had a difficulty of +E.

‘No matter what happens, I have to save him until the quest is resolved. Tch, what a pain.”

The sight of Haverstein coughing beside him filled him with annoyance.

If the quest didn’t have such a condition, he wouldn’t give a damn if Haverstein died or not. More importantly, he had to participate in the fight and hit the monsters that looked like crammed up wads of experience at least once.

Even those strong Knights were leveling up without rest. At his level, if he was fortunate enough to defeat one or two of the monsters, he’d probably be able to garner quite a lot of experience. However, he couldn’t afford to do that. If he didn’t stand by and watch over Haverstein, who was deteriorating by the minute, there was no knowing what sudden result might occur.

“Cough, cough!”

“You are okay. Illness comes first from the mind. If you firmly steel your heart, you can overcome any disease. Have courage. You can’t lose hope.”

As he prattled on about things he didn’t even believe in, he spewed the Nursing skill and Haverstein’s face became a little brighter.

“You have my thanks. If I listen to your words, my strength rises as if it’s really easing the disease. However, I am aware. That no matter how much I steel my mind, there’s no hope for my life.”

“What are you saying…….”

“No, it’s the truth. Because my disease did not come first from the mind.”

“Are you saying that you know about the disease?”

“Do you know why I’ve come here leading the Knights with a body like this?”

Haverstein’s clouded gaze swept across the dreary ruin.

“Because it’s here, the cursed devil killed my father and planted the disease in me.”

“Devil? Can you please tell me in more detail?”

“I may as well. Since you’ve already stepped foot in this place, knowing this won’t be bad. Truthfully, a long time ago there was a terrible calamity that befell Jackson Castle. It buried the land in disease and famine.”

“Are you saying that was the devil’s doing?”

“Yes. It was the doing of this malicious devil that came from a faraway continent. My ancestors of the Jackson family, which came to know of this truth, naturally rallied soldiers and fought with the devil. But with only the final blow remaining, the devil escaped, and since then the Jackson family has suffered from the devil’s curse. All the descendants of the Jackson family eventually die of a curse that brought about a terminal illnesses once they turn twenty.”

“What? But the Viscount is…”

“That my life is still bound to me is thanks to Father.”

Haverstein tightly clutched the silver necklace that fell to his chest.

“As the other ancestors did, Father also strove to release the family’s curse. And then in the same year when I was born, he finally found out. That the devil that had fled that time was hiding in this ruin. If that devil is killed, then the curse will end. But the place where that devil was hiding was firmly locked by an ancient force. The slate that you brought is precisely the key to opening that room.”

At the end of a long effort, his father had finally laid hands on the slate. Then, as Haverstein was doing now, he had led soldiers and searched for the devil.

Haverstein stared blankly at the Sylphid Knights as if meaning to see his father’s appearance from that time among them.

“First, I listened to the soldiers who were in the verge of death. They said a long and lengthy fight had occurred. In the end, it resulted in Father’s defeat. But Father, using the last of his strength, gave the devil a large wound. Thanks to that the curse has weakened, and I was able to live to this age.”

“So that means that the Viscount is suffering from the disease because that malicious devil has regained its strength.”

“You’re right. And since a few years ago, traces of the curse have even appeared on my now fifteen-year old son. The devil’s strength has become stronger. But the slate had already disappeared with my father’s death. For the last 3 years I tried to find the slate, but to no avail. In that time my body has become exhausted and thin, like this. Having lost the time to wait any longer, I went to battle to destroy the door with sheer force and punish the devil.”

“If the devil is killed, will the Viscount’s disease also be cured?”

Haverstein shook his head.

“No, it’s already too late for me. Now, even if I killed the devil I cannot live on. However, I cannot allow my son to meet the same fate as I. After all my father was also in the same situation as I, and fought the devil for my sake. This time, it is my turn to do for my son, as my Father has done for me. And I believe that I can succeed. That you brought the slate here, is without a doubt, a revelation from God.”

Ark was moved to tears.

A father for the sake of his son, and the son for the sake of his son, was burning away the last of his life.

Of course, they were NPCs. Though they looked like people, they weren’t.

Within that too-realistic face there was electricity that flowed along electric wires.

Despite that, the light with which Haverstein looked at Ark was sincere. That he himself was dying, and for his son he would throw away his life — he truly thought that way.

Most NPCs are similar in that sense. Although there were bad people and good people here in this world as there are in the real world, at the very least, people here don’t play with others’ sincere feelings through cunning lies.

That was the difference between an NPC and a user.

“The Viscount’s wish will definitely come true.”

“Thank you.”

Haverstein fell asleep with a more comforted face.

After that Ark took care of Haverstein with all his sincerity.

A father who would throw down everything for the sake of his son.

Though it was incredibly embarrassing, Ark could feel the presence of his own father in Haverstein.

Meanwhile, heartfelt sympathy formed towards Haverstein. He had to help Haverstein for the quest anyways. If it was a done deal, wouldn’t it be better to do it sincerely?

When a day had passed like that, Ark received a message he hadn’t even imagined.

Of the skills Ark had learned, Nursing had the slowest growth. Although he’d nursed Johansson about ten times, the skill points had been at a mere 20. Even after the nursing he’d done for Haverstein up until now, it was at 30.

But then it suddenly started swiftly going up, and in a moment it had reached Intermediate level.

Through care imbued with sincerity, the Nursing skill level has gone up.Nursing(Intermediate, Active): Can instill life by making the patient’s body and soul more comfortable with Increasingly proficient skillfulness.

Used on a patient, vigor and courage are increased by 40%. Mana consumption: 10

* Intermediate Nursing bonus effect(Nurse’s Soul): Can sincerely pray for the patient and grant the effect of a minor blessing. All stats are slightly increased, and through devout piety, resistance to curses related to the mind will form.

Ark’s mouth fell open.

It wasn’t because the skill went up, but because of the reason.

‘Does that mean it knows that I treated Viscount Haverstein with sincerity?’

The sudden, rapid growth of the skill had happened, since Ark had started to sincerely worry about Haverstein. Then didn’t that mean that Ark’s change in attitude influenced the growth of the skill?

Of course, it wasn’t something that was physically impossible.

New World was a system that scanned the brain and controlled the character with the user’s brainwaves. Emotion was, in the end, a brain wave. It was possible for the system to understand changes in emotion. But for even that part to influence the growth of skill…

Stating that was simple.

‘Whether it’s interaction with an NPC or learning a skill, the effect is maximized if you pour your sincerity.’

It was a principle that was so natural in reality. But who would have thought to apply such a principle even in a game?

It was shocking technological prowess, and a shocking discovery.

By the mistake in Harun Village, Ark was still in a state that fell far short of the other applicants. Even though he’d received a bonus of 12 points thanks to his special title, making up for half a month of difference in progress was difficult.

Though it’d be nice if they would take a nap like the story of the rabbit and turtle, it was best not to expect that. But now it seemed like he could find the way to narrow that difference.

‘There are still many unidentified systems in New World. If I find out about all of them, catching up to them isn’t just a long-shot dream! That’s right, the answer was right in front of me all along! Anyways the difference from users that started at the same time is that and only that. If I’m to get ahead of the others, then I can’t just follow what the others are doing.’

He saw a found new hope.

Afterward, Haverstein vomited blood more frequently.

As his spark of life continued to flicker out, his health deteriorated to the point where he could not recognize anyone. Every time that happened Ark used his Intermediate Nursing skill and forcefully held his life in place.

For the completion of the quest, for the growth of the skill, and for this unfortunate NPC’s small wish…

* * *

“We have finally arrived!”

A light of emotion rose on Haverstein’s ashen face.

It had been five days since they had entered the ruins. The group had finally arrived at the destination. A massive stone door engraved with complicated patterns!

The devil they were searching for was hiding behind this door.

The stone door that steamingly emitted a dismal aura, had a space on one side that was big enough to fit the slate.

Haverstein looked toward Ark and nodded his head. With a strained expression, Ark walked up to the stone door and pressed the slate in. Then the ruins rumbled as the stone gate slowly parted.

“Everyone prepare for battle, we will enter as we protect the Viscount!”

“Yes!”

A space that was entirely different from the interior of the ruin appeared. Uneven stone walls, and the ceiling was studded with stalactites like a demon’s fangs. It was a colossal hall made by the strength of Mother Nature.

It happened when Knights stayed vigilant on all sides and arrived at the center of the hall.

– Boss Monster Twisted Dream Weaver Debra has appeared.

“The devil has appeared!”

Ark shouted in surprise. At the same time, from the opposite entrance a black aura spewed out. Having received Ark’s warning, the Knights hastily fumbled to raise their shields, but the enormous shock blew away 3~4 people.

“Kekekeke, mayflies without fearful heads have crawled in to die!”

Within the dark, the sight of a huge being that looked to be a good 10 meters came into view. With armor of darkness and an enormous sword, the blood-red cape on its back fluttered as it emitted a dismal aura.

Debra’s body twisted like a whirlwind, and upon coming in contact with the black aura, the brave Knights fell into panic.

“I-it’s Debra!”

“Twisted Dream Weaver Debra of horror!”

“Do not be afraid, this bastard is just the cowardly monster that was coiled up and hiding within the stone door!”

Haverstein squeezed out his vigor and shouted. Only then did the Knights snap back to attention and rush toward Debra.

“Kekekee, foolish newborn pups!”

Deep blue sparks flew out every time Debra opened its mouth.

It swung the length of the enormously large sword. With one blow, 3~4 soldiers were shattered as they were blown away. The Sylphid Knights that had shown their unbeatable strength as they had crossed through the ruin were no match for Debra.

The deep blue sparks that spewed from its mouth melted their armor, and as the sword flew down in succession, the Knights collapsed with one, two wounds. But the Sylphid Knights didn’t yield and endlessly besieged Debra with a barrage of swords. The surrounding Magicians on the outskirts also threw lightning and flames.

At the consecutive, bursting flashes, Debra must have taken a blow, because it staggered.

“Today is the end of you!”

One of the Magicians hollered as he tore in with a skill combo of?Penetrate?.

Then, a red light enveloped Debra and a Health number cut in, about about half appeared above its head.

The Knights’ moral suddenly rose.

“The bastard doesn’t even have half its health left!”

“The time is now, finish it off!”

“Keuk, you bastards…”

Debra’s eyes flashed and a black aura surged out.

Wrapped in the aura, the Knights put on vacant expressions like they were somehow bewitched people, and then suddenly began to brawl amongst themselves.

“It’s Bewitching magic! Magicians!”
“Yes!”

The Magicians, who were outside the range of the aura, quickly uttered an incantation.

Resistance Spell, Cleanse Spell, Strengthening Willpower and other spells unfurled in the area. In spite of that, the Knights were unable to shake off the Bewitchment and floundered. Rather, the situation became more serious and 3~4 of them were felled by the swords of their friends.

Embarrassment spread over the Magicians’ faces.

“The spells aren’t dispelling it!”

“Everyone please calm down, no matter who our opponent is, we will surely be victorious.”

In the moment of the desperate situation, Ark’s voice cried out into the hall.

The pupils of the Bewitched Knights gradually focused and they suddenly came to.

It was the power of the Nursing skill. Even when the fight first started, there had been nothing Ark could do.

It was Debra’s attack, which could take out a two or three Knights, and got it out of critical condition. If the level 16 Ark was to get grazed it, he would definitely fall into critical condition. All he could do was to nurse Haverstein from the back.

But the situation changed as the Bewitched Knights brawled amongst themselves and suffered wounds. Because they weren’t simple Knights and were able to do a lot of damage to each other, they had become Ark’s patients.

When he used the Nursing skill on a patient, the Intermediate’s special effect, minor blessing, was granted. Thanks to that, they were able to resist the Bewitchment, which was a curse of the mind, and shake it off.

Not just that, but a bonus of vigor and courage 40%, and +3 to all stats. Of course, the Knight’s attack and defense power increased, and the Magician’s casting speed became faster.

“Oooohhhhhhh, my strength is surging!”
“We can win! Down with Debra!”

The Knights cheered and with a rush they swarmed and swung their swords. Debra erupted with a howl of fury but there was nothing it could do.

That was because Ark was not letting the soldiers rest.

“Please hurry and stand. Victory is right in front of you. Even though it’s the devil, everyone’s fighting spirit must not topple. Through unbreakable fighting spirit and unyielding courage you will undoubtedly become heroes written in history!”

“Haa haa, my stamina has hit the bottom. Let me rest a little…”

“Get out there and fight! Your bravery will carry us to victory!”

“Oooohhhhh! En,energy is surging! Come at me, devil!”

As Ark’s voice rang out, the Knights that had fallen over one after another sprang to their feet and swung their swords.

Abruptly, as the zombie-like Knights returned to the fight, Debra’s life quickly dropped. When it plummeted to 1 out of 10, it fell to one knee. Then Haverstein, who had been directing the Knights, climbed atop Debra’s body and thrusted his sword toward its throat.

“Die, devil…. kaa!”

Suddenly Debra stretched its arm and seized Haverstein’s throat.

“Kekekekeeuk, was the suffering good?”

Debra slowly raised its body. Screams of disbelief burst out from the surrounding Knights.

“Life, its life….!”

“Oh my god, does that mean this bastard is immortal?”

Debra’s cape fluttered as it twirled its body and its life was restored to 100 percent.

Ark flung himself through the disconcerted Knights.

“VISCOUNT!”

Dying was no longer the problem.

If Haverstein died, the quest was a failure.

‘To come all the way here and the quest is a failure? No way!’

As Ark ran in Debra swung its sword. It was an attack Ark had predicted. Ark quickly unleashed Hand-to-Hand Combat, and evaded. Then he pulled the sword aside and struck the bastard’s hand with all his might.

A fatal blow exploded and Debra lost hold of Haverstein.

Ark caught him and urgently moved back.

“YOU! YOU DARE!”

With a furious shout, Debra ran at him.

“Look at that! That stranger is fighting for the Viscount with his life on the line!”

“Everyone protect the stranger!”

The Knights, motivated by Ark’s action, stampeded forward. But now, no matter how much they struck out with their swords, Debra’s life did not decrease. In other words, it was immortal!

Debra didn’t even concern itself with their attacks and strode forth, swinging its sword like lightning.

Ark hastily stood in front of Haverstein and raised his sword.

BAM, with a heavy shock his life was cut to at least half.

‘HOLY SHIT, IF I GET HIT ONE MORE TIME IT’S OVER!’

His eyesight blurred. In that moment the sword went up again and fell with a force that split the air.

“No! Everyone concentrate their magic power! Warp!”

The Magicians concentrated their magic power on Ark and Haverstein.

The magic to warp another person was an Advanced 7 Circle spell.

It wasn’t a spell that these 4~5 Circle Magicians could produce.

But as 5 Magicians integrated their magic power with ‘Willpower Exchange,’ the 7 Circle spell was completed.

With a flash, Ark and Haverstein were transported somewhere.

Debra’s sword struck the floor right after that.

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2016-11-02T22:27:09+00:00September 27th, 2013|[X / KR] Ark|32 Comments