Ark: Volume 1 Chapter 7

//Ark: Volume 1 Chapter 7

Ark: Volume 1 Chapter 7

This chapter is brought to you by AnmesicCat, Haikai, Hikaru, Lei, and Mathew1122. Special mentions to Lastear, Masadeer, and Midori.

Warning: This chapter might cause severe stomach and cheek muscle aches. Death might follow.


Familiars

“Damn it.”

He subconsciously swore out loud.

In conclusion, the job change was a mistake.

Ark disliked hunting in a party. There wasn’t a single person he could trust, and their attitudes could change over a single valuable magic item, leading to an argument. He found these sorts of situations repulsive. Rather than suffering from such mess, he was far more comfortable hunting alone, even if it was a little more difficult.

This was the reason why Ark preferred a combat-relation profession.

Thieves who stab their enemies’ weak point, or Magicians who boast of having power to deal a one hit fatal blow weren’t bad either. However, these professions could only genuinely shine in parties.

On the other hand, although Warriors weren’t all that special, and didn’t particularly have any exceptional skill, they had high Stamina and Defense. That wasn’t all — they also received bonus bag space and in addition, they had resistance to all sorts of ailments. Thus, it wasn’t wrong to say they were professions perfect for soloing.

But the profession ‘Dark Walker’ was closer to a Thief than a Warrior.

Dark Walker, one who walks the night. He should have guessed when he heard the name.

It was a matter of fact that the profession’s bonus stats focused on, Agility, Intelligence, and Luck. But even then, all the additional stats were evenly matched to a Thief’s.

No, it’d be better to be a regular Thief. If you debate about it, a Thief is a combat-related profession. If you look at the Summoning skill, or the Intelligence stat bonuses, it seems like this profession included a Magician’s traits to some degree.

‘Agility is fine, since it influences critical hits, attack speed, and evasion rate, but Intelligence and Luck? In the end, it’s unclear whether it’s a Thief-related or Magician-related profession, or maybe even a Cleric.’

Hybrid-characters. They sound good and all, but in reality, it just means they were neither one, nor the other.

With the additional stats totalled to 60, he had gained a bonus amount doubled that of a standard job-change for a normal profession.

There was nothing problematic stat-wise. However, there were a lot of cases where stat bonuses added by a job change influenced the profession’s ability as a whole. This meant that whether he liked it or not, he would have to diligently raise those three stats…

‘And whose fault is it? The one who jumped the fence after hearing of a hidden profession was me. It was my mistake.’

He let out a stifled sigh.

But what could he do about the profession he had already chosen?

Similar to how he was mice hunting in Harun, if Ark focused on one thing, he had the propensity to obstinately dig his heels in. Be as it may, he was quick to give up if he thought he couldn’t do anything about the situation.

At this moment, the situation was exactly the same. In any case, he couldn’t turn back time even if he regretted it. So he thought he should make the best out of the current mishap to try and understand the Dark Walker profession and its special characteristics, and quickly adapt to it with the best of his abilities.

‘No, it’s still a hidden profession. It’s because I’ve been thinking about being Warrior too much. It’s probably not all that bad. If I nurture the profession’s advantages, I’m sure I’ll find more good points. Okay, calm down and examine it carefully. First of all, it seems fundamentally similar to a Thief. Summoning is definitely one of this profession’s unique point. In other words, the profession’s nature will be decided depending on how Summoning is used, right?’

Anyhow, he could summon up to three Demons that he could handle at will.

‘If I use these guys, won’t I be able to hunt solo?’

“Summon Demon.”

Ark welled with expectation and called out the Summon skill, spending the newly formed Spiritual Power points. However, as soon as he examined the Familiar he summoned, the speck of expectation in his heart crumbled to bits.

‘Wha-what is this. This is?’

The summoned Familiar appeared with a blinding flash was just a skull.

The Skull briefly checked its surroundings with eyes of hazy light. It discovered Ark and chattered its teeth together, making a clattering sound.

Ark hastily opened the information window.

Nameless Dead Man’s Skull

The skull of a low-class dead man that had been wandering in the Netherworld. There is nothing special about it. However, it holds unwavering loyalty for the master who saved it from the Netherworld.

Race

Undead

Alignment

Dark

Class

Health

50

Loyalty

200

Strength

10

Agility

10

Stamina

10

Wisdom

0

Intelligence

0

Luck

0

In other words, apart from its loyalty, it was a bloke no different from a pebble on the roadside.

“Are you kidding me? If it doesn’t have an ability, it should at least have been pretty.”

He exploded in anger, but the Skull simply tumbled around. Ark grinded his teeth as he restored his Spiritual Power and called out the two remaining Familiars.

Hatred-Bearing Bat

A low-class Bat ostracized in the Netherworld. Having suffered rejection for a long time, it bears frustration and hatred towards the world. Because of its hatred, it cannot be completely loyal to its master. To expect its loyalty, you must first gain its trust.

Race

Demonic

Alignment

Dark

Class

Health

50

Loyalty

50

Strength

5

Agility

10

Stamina

10

Wisdom

10

Intelligence

10

Luck

0

‘Oh great, now it’s a loser bat?’

A Hatred-bearing Bat? He had to gain its trust? There really were all kinds of crap. However, compared to the familiar that appeared last, the first two were aristocracy.

Netherworld’s Egg

A firm shelled egg all high-class Demonic beings of the Netherworld enjoyed eating.

Race

??

Alignment

??

Class

Health

200

Loyalty

Strength

0

Agility

0

Stamina

40

Wisdom

0

Intelligence

0

Luck

0

Upon seeing the egg appearing before him, he omitted all feelings of wanting to be angry.

‘An egg? What exactly could you use it for? So what if it’s as firm as a rock? Is it asking to be thrown?’

With these three Familiars in front of him, he couldn’t fathom what the hell they were used for. Ark was stunned.

Hidden professions usually had two types of natures.

One, they held the possibility of becoming a hero through their exceptional abilities. While the other was a profession made through an event for fun and games, which was no more than just a unique profession.

By the looks of it, it appeared the profession Ark had found was of the latter type.

He did think the three Familiars he summoned were interesting, but that was all there was to it.

They weren’t even Halloween decorations… What help would a Skull, Bat, and Egg be?

However, there wasn’t anything that could be done about it.

In New World, a one-time choice would determine one’s fate. In a way, it was more cold-hearted than reality. In a world such as this, having already made his choice, there was no way to turn back.

“Huhuhuhu.”

An absurd laugh escaped Ark’s lips.

Ark quickly gave up. But it wasn’t the ‘whatever happens, happens’ kind of surrender.

Someone once said ‘If you can’t avoid it, enjoy it’. It’s quite a famous saying.

Ark had lived with those words engraved in his heart. That’s why no matter what situation he was in, he had never pitied himself before. If he harbored even a morsel of self-pity, he wouldn’t have been able to endure until now.

“The penalty in Harun Village, and then changing my profession to an unwanted one. With so many failures, I can’t even get angry anymore. Alright, let’s give it a try. Bad luck? Don’t make me laugh. Without fail, I’m gonna try turning this ridiculous character into a Warrior.”

If the profession wasn’t satisfactory, he just had to raise his level more than others. If raising his level wasn’t enough, then he could also raise his skill like crazy.

New World was a game with high degrees of freedom.

Just because he’d selected his profession didn’t mean that it would decide everything. Even if it wasn’t a special technique, there were plenty of common skills he could learn. With a close choice from that boundless array, he could shape the way his character developed in all sorts of manners.

Although there were cases where a lot of penalties were applied because of the profession, there were more skills he could learn than skills he couldn’t learn.

A Warrior-type Magician. Thief-type Warrior, etc… that meant with effort, making a versatile Multi-Character wasn’t just impossible, but what he had to believe in now was just that endless freedom.

“If I’ve made my decision, there’s no time to sit around.”

Ark sprang up and headed to the hunting ground.

Level 20-30 monsters he could catch were scattered in the Jackson area. Currently, Ark’s level was 21.

It was good enough to set Jackson as his base and do his grinding.

“Haaayaahh!”

From that day on, Ark immersed himself hunting in day and night.

The opponent Ark had chosen in the beginning was a mud monster called Harpoon. Its body was made of mud, so he couldn’t strike it with his sword very well, and it had a lot of health inconsistent with its level, 20. However, it wasn’t a difficult monster to fight because it moved slowly.

When the fighting started, Ark won easily with a strategy of unleashing waves of attacks while circling the area around the Harpoon.

When the Harpoon collapsed, it dropped Iron Ore, an item that fetched a really nice price at the Smithy.

If his Health didn’t fall below half, Ark wouldn’t take a break. Only when his bag was filled bursting or his equipment’s durability had fallen to 5 or below did he return briefly to Jackson to address those matters.

Besides that, the rest of the time was solely devoted to bloody battles with monsters! Despite that, Ark didn’t feel fatigue. No matter how tough or tired he was, all his needs washed away with the cheerful sound of a level up.

After hanging on, frantically hunting like that for two days, his level went up by another 3, bringing him to 24. His combat-only skills, Sword Mastery and Hand-to-Hand Combat, went up considerably and were now at Intermediate as well. With that, the two skills combined and a new message information window popped up.

Sword Mastery and Hand-to-Hand Combat have reached the maturity of an expert. Accordingly, the two techniques have combined to allow you to register Sword-Hand Combat as a legal skill.

Note, if Sword-Hand Combat is registered as a legal skill, Sword Mastery and Hand-to-Hand Combat will be automatically deleted.

Sword-Hand Combat (Beginner, Passive): The technique that experts of Sword Mastery and Hand-to-Hand Combat use.

Although you cannot equip a shield along with it, it is an advanced combat technique that thoroughly combines deftness and keenness. It grants you additional attack power with all types of swords and knuckle-related weapons, and your evasion and critical hit rate will increase rapidly. General attack power is increased by 20%. Sword-Hand Combat’s effect dissolves shield equipping.

 

A new stat has formed.Flexibility (+10): Your body becomes more flexible, allowing you to perform difficult movements skillfully.

Your evasion is heightened and you receive extra points if your attack hits the mark. However, if you equip iron armor, a certain amount of the worn equipment’s effect will drop.

Stat distribution is impossible, and if you succeed in performing evasion movements of difficult techniques, it will increase automatically.

Ark’s eyes lit up.

Was there anything that made a user happier when it came down to a character’s growth?

With the level and skill growth, he could definitely feel himself getting stronger. Hand-to-Hand Combat was a skill especially well suited to Ark’s fighting style.

Ark’s tactic of leaving enough space, discharge attacks and delivering the finishing blow at the chance were all techniques he’d learned from Taekwondo. If he packed the sensation directly into his sword, he would undoubtedly scored a critical hit.

With the skill ‘Eyes of the Cat’ included, it made his critical hit rate even higher. And because of that, a frenzied battle with exploding critical hits wildly unfurled.

Defeating a monster took less than just 1 minute. Although he was bent on believing that he was a Warrior-type, his fighting style, which measured space and watched for gaps rather than blindly throwing himself in, was closer to a Thief’s.

“Alright, I think I can proceed deeper in now.”

Ark’s eyes looked towards the inner depths of the forest.

In order to ensure one’s safety when soloing, one was bound to hunt monsters at a lower level than oneself. Ark had done so until now, but this area’s monsters didn’t give him the proper amount of experience now. Ark moved forward to find stronger monsters.

However, moving his hunting ground without prior information was a mistake.

As soon as he stepped into the forest depths, he heard a menacing cry. As he raised his head reflexively, Ark’s face hardened.

In the dark, he saw five wolves prowling about with their gleaming scarlet eyes.

They had enormous bull-like bodies, black fur like the pitch-black darkness, and knife-like sharp canines. They were Dire Wolves.

‘5 Dire Wolves…!’

Dire Wolves were incomparably more powerful than normal Wolves. On top of that, it was now night time. The nocturnal Dire Wolf’s ability went up by 30 percent. They were such formidable opponents that it wasn’t certain if a level 24 would be able to handle two or three of them. Ark’s whole body stiffened rigidly with tension.

‘Damn, I was too careless. It’s too late to run away now.’

His Taekwondo-trained body judged the situation faster than his mind and moved.

The first move meant victory! It was a method used in kung fu, wrestling, and everywhere else.

Ark reduced the distance rapidly as he swung his sword landing a critical hit, with one Wolf falling back. However, the wolves were also beasts that were proficient at pack hunting. A Wolf ran in and avenged its companion with the same critical hit to his back, which he’d left neglected as he focused on attacking.

His consciousness reeled.

– You have been critically hit! Damage 50.

You have been inflicted with Bleed. Until the battle is over, you will receive 2 damage every 10 seconds.

‘So it’s insult to injury. Since I’m like this, I’ll die after I kill just one more!’

Ark faced the Wolf throng as he unleashed Sword-Hand Combat. He swung his sword wildly and clawed with his Cat Paws. He even rolled on the ground, sprang up, and whipped out kicks.

After 10 minutes of the bloody battle, three wolves collapsed. But Ark, who was inflicted with Bleed, also had to pay a price.

‘Huff huff huff, only 20 percent of my Health is left.’

“Eyes of the Cat.”

As he used the skill, Ark’s eyes turned into golden cat eyes. Their halved Healths appeared above the wolves’ heads.

‘If it goes well, I might even be able to win.’

Just when Ark had momentarily released his tension, a Wolf who had been watching for its chance didn’t miss the opportunity and rushed in.

As it flashed in front of his eyes, his Health plummeted. Ark’s body became awash in red. He’d fallen into the critical state. At the same time, message windows popped up continuously.

Indomitable Will and Indomitable Body, which shone more brightly in a crisis, were invoked. Attack power, critical hit and evasion rate skyrocketed!

‘It’s a chance!’

His eyes flashed as he thrusted his sword.

Clang, clang! As two critical hits landed in succession, the wolves collapsed.

Then, the remaining one lunged towards his side and charged in. Ark hastily turned his body as he swung his sword. However, fortune and misfortune were a just hair apart.

– Your critical hit attack has missed!

If it was a normal attack, there wouldn’t have been any reason for it to miss. However, because of his skills triggering automatically when in a critical state, he was in a condition where his critical hit rate was abnormally high. That actually acted negatively. As much as a critical hit gave 2 times the damage, the miss rate was also that heightened.

“Ah, no! If I die now the stats…. SUMMON DEMON! This useless skull. Just do something!”

With his heart clutching at straws, Ark summoned the skull, grabbed it, and threw it.

The skull went flying and clamped onto the Wolf’s ankle. Although the damage was just 1, it succeeded in stopping the movements of the Wolf that had rushed in with its bared fangs. It was a chance he’d never even dreamed of.

Ark closed the space in one burst as he thrusted his sword, and a flash exploded out.

– You have landed a critical hit.
As a co-op bonus with the Skull, 30% of the damage has been added.

Awoooo!

The Wolf howled its death throes as it collapsed.

It was a miracle-like victory. Ark, who realized that he’d narrowly won, checked and saw that his remaining health was a mere 3. If the battle had dragged on for just 20 more seconds, he would’ve collapsed from the Bleed. The Bleed had stopped with the end of the battle, but his heart was still thumping violently as it pumped hot blood through his veins.

Arc rushed to a safe place as soon as possible. After recovering his Stamina with a simple snack, he barely managed to calm down.

Ark stared at the Skull with surprised eyes.

Like a puppy begging for praise, the Skull was rolling over and over around him. It was the same Skull that he decided not to summon again because of its disappointing appearance.

It seemed like it wouldn’t be any help, and since it would even suck Mana from him during battle, there wasn’t really any reason to pull it out. However, his life was saved thanks to the Skull, and his opinion of it had changed.

‘At least it’s better than nothing.’

“Anyways, I survived thanks to you, Skull.”

Clack clack clack.

The Skull clattered its teeth as if it understood his words.

For the last few days, Ark had been engrossed in hunting. Besides the occasional times when returned to the castle, he was always alone. He hadn’t felt it until now because he’d been absorbed in hunting, but he realized yet again that that the forest felt unusually broad and desolate.

“You, I’m really pleased with you.”

For one thing, it seemed like he wasn’t going to be bored if he was with the Skull. Additionally, if it could be a help like the way he’d used it just now, it was perfectly satisfactory. It would consume Mana in battle, but as long as he doesn’t use Spirit of the Cat, he didn’t particularly needed the Mana either.

“Alright, since it’s a skill that I’ve learned, should I try using it properly?”

Ark went ahead and summoned the Bat too.

Once he actually decided to use them, the Familiars had many unexpected uses.

The Bat excelled in scouting the area. If he sent the Bat before he moved in, he could reduce the chances of him being suddenly hemmed in by Wolves. It was also useful for surveying the general terrain.

The Skull and Bat also played a part in battle.

“Go!”

As Ark extended his hand, the Skull and Bat flew towards the Yeti.

The Skull bit the Yeti’s ankle to slow its movement, and the Bat covered its eyes to impede its vision.

Ark leisurely studied the situation and flung his sword. Then, a critical hit burst out with a considerably high rate. On top of that, the co-op attack bonus with the Familiars was added!

Just like that, he would start fighting with the monsters and cut down their health by nearly 20 percent. After getting used to this method, it was now difficult to even imagine a fight without the Familiars.

“Wahahaha, this is as useful as expected!”

Although he still hadn’t been able to figure out the Egg’s purpose, with just the Skull and the Bat, Ark’s hunting speed accelerated. Of course, they weren’t that helpful when he was fighting a strong monster. In fact, they were crushed even before he went to the nearby area and even dealt [indirect] damage to Ark’s Health.

If the Familiar was destroyed, Ark’s Health was also decreased by up to 50% of its Health. But the Familiar’s Health was just 50, it wasn’t fatal damage, and a destroyed Familiar could also be called forth again any time he wanted after 24 hours.

“Dark Walker, this might even be an unexpectedly okay profession.”

Ark became more and more enamored with the Dark Walker’s charm like this.

A character that was neither this nor that could mean that it could do anything.

As he went deeper into the forest, Ark shouted valiantly, “Forward, forward! Let’s take down everything!”

* * *

Kyaaak!

The Zombie collapsed as it screamed a grotesque shriek.

A message popped up with a cheerful sound effect.

– Your level has risen.

 

Character Name

Ark

Race

Human

Alignment

None

Fame

300

Level

26

Profession

Dark Walker

Title

Cat Knight

Health

745

Mana

250

Spiritual Power

100

Strength

104

Agility

104 (+17)

Stamina

124

Wisdom

23

Intelligence

44

Luck

23

Flexibility

10

Special stat: Knowledge of Ancient Relics

10

Equipment Effects

Sharply Shining Sword: Attack speed +5
Cat Paws: Attack speed +10%, Agility +15, Critical Hit Rate +10%
*All abilities are increased by 20% in the dark.

*The ability to hide your body in the dark has formed (Duration time 10 minutes. Cancelled if you start fighting).

*Resistance to horror, darkness, blinding, and charm spells is increased by 50%.

*You can bring out the true abilities from all types of tools.

‘Phew, it’s harder than I thought.’

Ark’s face was full of sweat, but he was beaming with happiness.

You receive as much reward as your suffering. There wasn’t any reason for him to complain.

As hunting became faster, his mood surged to the peak. Coasting on that mood, Ark entered the deepest part of the forest, called the Shadow Forest.

Among the areas around Jackson, this was the forest with the highest difficulty.

Even from just its atmosphere, the Shadow Forest was different from other places. Within the darkness that made it difficult to distinguish the path in front of him, the sagging branches of old oaks were intertwined like a net, and there was a bizarre kind of plant blanketing the blackened, dead ground.

The monsters that emerged were also grotesque.

Rotting Wolves, Zombies, and Ghoul-like Undead monsters spawned. Even the weakest Rotting Wolf had a higher level than Ark. Even more so was the occasionally appearing level 50 medium boss monster, Reaper, which he wouldn’t even consider approaching.

However, even the Undeads couldn’t make the high-spirited Ark afraid.

No, Ark was able to truly really realize the meaning of the name Dark Walker only when he arrived at this rotting forest.

As he entered the dark forest, a message window popped up soon afterwards.

Dark Walker special effect: All abilities increased by 20% in the dark.

Granted, the same effect applied at night as well. However, most of the monsters’ stats go up by 30 percent at night. Ultimately, the difference that Ark could actually feel was almost nonexistent. But right now, it was currently day time. Monster stats stayed the same, while Ark’s stats rose.

Although Ark’s level was 26, he actually had the abilities of a level 30!

Since all of his skills and stats were enhanced, the difference was enormous. Even late level 20s Rotting Wolves were no match for him.

It was to the point that he didn’t have a whole lot of difficulty fighting Zombies and Ghouls in their early level 30s.

On top of that, one of his profession techniques was ‘Hiding’. Although there wasn’t any effect when he was already discovered, but if he used it appropriately, he could leisurely rest in a place crawling with monsters.

A profession which demonstrated its true ability in the dark, that’s what Dark Walker profession was. Because of the Dark Walker’s special ability, he was able to hunt monsters that Ark couldn’t normally defeat at his level.

That wasn’t all. When a user defeats a monster 5 levels above theirs, additional experience is granted. With that, the experience that seemed to have stopped before he entered the forest was now surging up.

‘It also drops a lot of japtem, I’m really getting into hunting this Undead.’

Ark was in high spirits.

The Undead monster dropped quite a lot of items. Even so, for the most part they were lumps of rotted meat and the like, but occasionally it also dropped equipment like a dagger, gloves, or shoes.

The japtem were neatly piling up in his bag. Granted, they were lousy items that would be difficult to sell for even a few coppers if he tried.

However, Ark, who had eked out a living through part-time jobs, knew this. They say that many drops makes an ocean. If you gathered even a few coppers, it would eventually become silver and then gold.

Ark personally equipped a few of them.

Used Worn-out Shoes

Armor Type

Leather Shoes

Defense

5

Durability

5/5

Weight

8

Usage Restriction

None

Shoes used by an Undead for his entire lifetime. The worn and faded leather emanates rotten smell. No matter how skilled a craftsman may be, they will not be able to repair this pairs of shoes to be worth wearing.

 

Dirty Leather Hat

Armor Type

Leather Helmet

Defense

5

Durability

9/9

Weight

5

Usage Restriction

None

A leather hat used by an Undead during his lifetime. It’s a hat that looks like it would struggle to block a raindrop, let alone a sword.

Stat or appearance, they were too wretched for words. With the tattered shoes and hat on, at a distance who would have been mistaken for a beggar. In addition, the material was made out of leather, so the rotting smell was so bad, it paralyzed the sense of smell.

Ark laughed exultantly nevertheless. Purchasing shoes and a hat that lacked defence from a shop would cost a wasteful 50 silvers, at the very least. It was better to hunt while smelling the rotten scent than to spend 50 silvers.

On top of that, they even had defence, so nothing was left to desire.

Ark was extremely pleased with the Shadow Forest.

He received stat bonus and his experience went up quickly. Useful items sometimes dropped as well. Would there be another place as delightful as this one while playing the game? If he could, he wanted to hunt in the Shadow Forest for several days.

However, a problem he hadn’t expected arose. What Ark had actually been worried about was the equipment’s durability.

He hadn’t learned the repair skill yet, because he hadn’t felt the need for it.

After finishing the quest in Jackson, if there was something Ark had earned, it was the right to utilize the Lord’s personal facilities. Among those was the Lord’s foremost Smithy. If he used that place, they repaired his equipment for half the price of normal Smithies.

Since he’d been hunting around Jackson, there wasn’t a need to pay out expensive fee to learn the skill. That’s why Ark found it troublesome if the durability was suddenly exhausted in a hunting ground far away from Jackson.

However, an even worse problem occurred in an element he’d truly never expected.

It was food.

Ark had prepared just 10 wheat breads when he left Jackson. Since he had Survival Cooking, he’d planned on acquiring ingredients here and there, making food, and eating. Although he was able to do that in the forest where he last hunted, the Shadow Forest was not an ordinary forest.

Of course he saw tons of food ingredients in the Shadow Forest, but the forest was a place where Undead roamed around in broad daylight. He couldn’t find any normal looking food ingredients.

The mushrooms or even the grass looked like eyeballs or intestines. Simply imagining how it would taste or feel to chew made him shudder. No, the taste was fine no matter how it was. The problem was that Ark wouldn’t know what kind of effect the cooking he learned would have, a characteristic of Survival Cooking.

‘That’s definitely dangerous. It has dangerous sign written on it.’

Perhaps it was because the grade of the ingredient was too high, he couldn’t figure out its information with his beginner Ingredient Identification skill.

But could he find out by just looking at the information?

They didn’t have a skull mark, but they were food ingredients that devoted every fiber of their being to claim they were dangerous.

Ark was able to hunt comfortably in the Shadow Forest thanks to his hiding ability. But if he made the wrong food, ate it, catches a Confusion hex and ran amok, he’d become an Undead’s meal right there and then. If it wasn’t a safe place, it was better not to make a new Survival Cooking meal.

‘I’m gonna go crazy. The wheat bread is already gone, and even my recovery rate has dropped by 50 percent. Eventually, there will be some penalty… Do I have to go all the way back to the village even if it takes 1~2 hours? Or should I put my life on the line and try making and eating it?’

As Ark rummaged in his bag, an ingenious thought suddenly came to mind.

‘Of course. Why didn’t I think of that?’

“Summon Demon, Netherworld’s Egg!”

At Ark’s cry, the Egg Familiar appeared.

It was the Familiar Ark hadn’t bothered with, because unlike the Skull and Bat, it was a good-for-nothing. Ark had thought there’d be no reason to summon it again, but the Familiar’s purpose had finally surfaced.

Ark swallowed his saliva as he gazed at the Netherworld’s Egg.

‘Even if it’s a Familiar or whatever, in the end it’s only slightly larger than a normal egg. There’s no reason why it can’t be used as a food ingredient. Since it was said the Demonic beings also ate it frequently, and an ingredient is an ingredient. An egg will be better than those disgusting ingredients in the forest. And even if a Summon disappears, I can call it again. If it goes well, it might even become an ingredient I can use limitlessly. I’m sure of it, the Egg’s purpose was probably this from the start.’

Ark grinned as he put the Netherworld’s Egg in the pot.

“Huhuhu, an egg is a wealth of protein. A meal of enormous effect might even be born.”

Then he added a little amount of normal food ingredients he had left and began to boil it.

So how was it? Light spewed from the cooking, which wafted a really reasonable aroma. The message that the cooking had succeeded showed up. Now, all that was left was to taste it.

“Ohhh, it succeeded. It succeeded — Boiled Egg!”

Just as Ark reached out to raise the Egg while humming a tune, all the food inside the pot suddenly vanished. Soon afterward, a message window he’d never seen before popped up along with the gloomy laughter as background music.

– You have completed Survival Cooking. However, ‘Netherworld’s Egg’ has absorbed all of it.

There is no effect on Netherworld’s Egg. You have not grasped what kind of effect the cooking has.

“Wha-what? Absorb?”

Ark stared at the Egg with a dumbfounded expression.

He needed a considerable amount of time before he was able to understand the situation.

‘The egg absorbed the cooking. Then, does that mean the Egg as a whole wasn’t used as a cooking ingredient? But absorbed? What the hell does that mean?’

Ark, who had his head tilted sideways, suddenly raised his head.

‘What, in the end it means the Egg went and ate the cooking! If so…?’

Ark’s line of vision shifted to the Skull.

Ultimately, it meant that Familiars could also eat food! As soon as he realized that, yet another method flashed through his mind like lightning and surfaced. Ark quickly made a new meal.

There was no need to agonize, either. Food ingredients were everywhere around him. He roughly gather food ingredients around him and dumped them inside the pot. After several failures, he completed a soup radiating a peculiar smell.

Ark gestured to the Skull with tender eyes.

“Here, Skull. Try eating this.”

Lei: IT’S A TRAP!

The Skull stared with sunken eyes and approached him with hesitation.

After dunking itself into the soup, it jumped right out and collapsed.

The Skull shot reproachful looks that said ‘why did you do something like this to me’ at him and slowly disappeared.

– Nameless Dead Man’s Skull has received an intense shock. Damage 50!
– Nameless Dead Man’s Skull has disappeared to the Netherworld. You can summon it again after 24 hours.
– The food you made through Survival Cooking is ‘Soup of Horrifying Taste’. Just having a sip of it will deal an enormous shock with its incredibly repugnant taste. Wrap it up well and send it to a mean opponent as a present.

“It was as I expected!”

Ark nodded vigorously. Familiars could eat food after all. And after a Familiar of his had eaten the food he made, it was added to the Survival Cooking’s catalog. In other words, no matter who ate it, it was fine as long as Ark checked the cooking’s effect. There was no reason to test out its danger personally!

How anxious he’d been until now every time he made a new meal…

“Cooking has suddenly become enjoyable. After all, food has to be made for the sake of others.”

Ark made food again as he hummed a tune.

However, the Bat was not as loyal as the Skull. The Bat, which had witnessed the horrific scene of the Skull eating the food and falling over, was filled with fear and backed away furtively. Of course, Ark wasn’t one to let it off because of that.

After grabbing the Bat and shoving it into the salad-filled pot, another message window popped up.

The food you have made through Survival Cooking is Suspicious Herb Salad. It appears extremely suspicious, but it actually has the effect of recovering Stamina quickly.

Recovery rate +50%. Restores up to 150 Health over 30 seconds.

Ark immediately remade and ate food after confirming its effects.

The Shadow Forest’s ratio of poisonous and edible food ingredients were half and half. The problem was that the poisonous ones’ toxicity was extremely powerful. There were a lot of foods that could send Ark off after one bite if he ate them thoughtlessly. However, Ark didn’t worry at all.

He didn’t have to shoulder the danger.

Ark, who’d found a method to figure out the effects of the food safely, had no reservations. He gathered all the ingredients he could see and made food without resting, as if he were possessed by the spirit of a head chef.

“Ohohoho, should I also try putting rotted meat in there this time?”

The Skull and Bat were hugging each other tightly as they trembled from the ever-changing approaching horror.

Ark beamed as he said, “At least it’s better than your master, me, dying. Right?”

But they were slaves to their wicked master, and had no place to run. The Skull and Bat were helplessly wandering between life and death. After a few hours, the Skull, which had a loyalty of 200, had a different light to its eyes when it looked at Ark. The Bat that had a low loyalty to begin with even attempted to escape.

“Hmmm, even if you try to flee, you can’t hide. Cancel Summon. Resummon, Bat.”

The Bat who had fled a significant distance disappeared and appeared in front of Ark’s nose.

Ark glared at the squirming Bat as he scolded, “You cheeky rascal, this is your third time.”

Ark mercilessly shoved the Bat into the pot.

The firmly stuck and trembling Bat suddenly screamed.

“UWAHH, PLEASE STOP, MASTER!”

In the meantime, a message window came up.

– As an effect of the mysterious food, the stats of ‘Hatred-bearing Bat’ have increased.

 

Hatred-Bearing Bat

Race

Demonic

Alignment

Dark

Class

Health

50 (+5)

Loyalty

50

Strength

5 (+1)

Agility

10 (+1)

Stamina

10 (+1)

Wisdom

10 (+1)

Intelligence

10 (+2)

Luck

0

* The ability to communicate with the Summoner through language has formed

(Note, a food it has eaten once will not have an effect the second time. Only new foods stimulate a Familiar of the Netherworld and bring out its hidden power.)

“Ara, what’s this? A Familiar’s stats can also increase through food?”

Ark’s eyes widened.

He hadn’t even thought that Familiars could grow.

Granted, he could tell from reading the information window that it wasn’t that easy to fulfill the conditions. He had to make and find the right food for the Familiar among hundreds of meals. Plus, he could raise its stats through the same food just one time. If he wanted to raise its stats again, he had to find a new food.

It was a dizzying task that used countless ingredients and an innumerable amount of labor. But even if it was impossible, the fact that a Familiar’s stats could be raised was the difference between heaven and earth.

It was possible. That meant it was worth trying. More so if it weren’t just stats that rose, but new abilities that formed as well.

“But for the first formed ability to be language capability… It wanted to communicate with me that much?”

If monsters were similar to users, then they would also first learn the skill they needed most.

Ark stared at the Bat with surprised eyes. The Bat was flapping as it gnashed its teeth.

“What nonsense, master! Are you spewing such crap because you don’t know why I wanted to speak? Like master, we also feel taste and feel pain! I’d rather die than eat that horrible food!”

“Are you defying your master right now?”

“I-I’m not defying. I’m asserting my right!”

“Do you think that way too, Skull?”

As Ark turned his head a little, the Skull with a loyalty of 200 quickly shook its head.

The Bat leapt up.

“Thi-this traitor!”

“If you keep squealing, I’ll expand your food intake by 2 times.”

“He—heek!

The Bat let loose a stifled cry and shut its mouth.

To be fair, how terrible was eating the food that it even developed a speaking ability? As wicked as Ark was, when he saw this kind of response from the Familiar, he also felt a little sorry.

“Alright, we’ll do it less often in the future.”

“But doesn’t that mean we still have to eat?”

“As your master, why would I be doing it with bad intentions? This is all for your own good. Don’t you also want to grow?”

“Li—lies!”

“I can’t lie,” Ark said confidently.

‘Huhuhu, do you think I’d give up on such a comfortable method? And since I’ve finally found a way to make you guys useful, too.’

Now he had a definite reason to feed the Familiars the unidentified food.

He didn’t need to bat an eyelash because of feelings such as guilt. But was that the end of it? Nope. He had also gained a perfect weapon to control his Familiars.

“Ri-ridiculous! I don’t need it!”

“You’re noisy, if you keep whining I’ll only feed you from now on!”

The Bat jumped in alarm and blocked its mouth.

“Listen well. When there’s battles in the future, whoever doesn’t do its job properly will have to eat the food. You understand?”

“I-I get it,” the Bat replied with a quavering voice.

The Skull also rocked its head back and forth as it clacked its teeth.

Ark had complete domination over the Familiars. Of course, no matter how well they listened to his orders, he had thoughts to keep feeding them food. So no matter what, the result would be the same.

“Bat, go scout the area and come back. Meticulously. You know what’ll happen if you mess up, right?”

Ark had a pleased smile on his face as he watched the Bat flying frantically off.

Dark Walker, an extremely worthwhile profession.

They may be just Familiars, but he couldn’t just keep swinging his whip at them all he wanted. Sometimes the Bat and Skull both performed in his expectations, so he exempted them from punishment.

Of course the food was given to the Egg.

‘If the Skull and Bat can grow, then it’s possible for the Egg, too.’

Ark’s prediction hit the mark. After making it absorb a certain amount of food, a change occurred in the Egg.

It wriggled, and small cracks also appeared on its surface. They were miniscule changes that couldn’t be detected without careful inspection, but it was definite proof that it could grow with food.

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2016-11-02T22:22:49+00:00October 25th, 2013|[X / KR] Ark|67 Comments