This chapter is brought to you by AnmesicCat, Haikai, Lastear, Lei, Masadeer, and Milk. Special mentions to Rea.
The edited 1.9 is finally up! Sorry for the delay, folks, and enjoy.
The Two Girls
With a flurry of dim lights, a new user was born into New World. Her name was Roco. She was a cute looking female character.
“Woah, woah, so this is what they call a virtual reality game?”
Roco looked at her surroundings with round, fascinated eyes. The sky, earth, mountains, fields, everything about the landscape before her was just as, no several times more beautiful than reality.
Buildings made of stone and wood encircled her. It was just like the sight of Medieval Europe you could sightsee at a theme park.
Roco carefully raised her foot with an uneasy look on her face, and took a step. Immediately afterwards, whirling her arms and suddenly exclaiming.
“Am I really inside a unit? Even though moving about isn’t different from reality? No wonder the game fee is expensive. Ah? Is this my face?”
Roco was running around left and right like a child when her eyes caught her reflection in a glass window. She stared at her stunning appearance, which looked like the X idols she’d often seen on TV.
She unconsciously let out a laugh.
“Eheheh, alright. My plastic surgery looks like it’s been done perfectly, so should I get started on this thing called New World?”
Although she said so in high spirits, Roco scratched her head in confusion.
“But, what am I supposed to do first?”
Just then, an elder who had been glancing at Roco from behind spoke to her.
“Youngin, is this your first time here?”
Since he spoke suddenly, Roco was startled and stepped back. The elder chuckled as he nodded his head.
“Yes, that’s right. I’m talking to you. What’s your name?”
“I’m called Roco.”
“Little Roco, do you perhaps need some help?”
“Yes, um… for now, please let me ask you a few questions. This is Harun Village, right?”
“Indeed, this is Schudenberg Kingdom’s frontier village, Harun. I am the village chief, Hansen.”
“Ah, grandpa Hansen!”
Roco excitedly jumped up and down as she clapped her hands. Then, as if she was checking him out, she circled around Hansen, looking him over. Hansen stammered with an embarrassed expression.
“Why, why are you acting like this?”
“Ah, I apologize. I was just amazed to personally see grandpa Hansen, who I’ve only heard about.”
“You’ve heard of me from someone?”
“Yes, Hyun Woo-oppa…. ah, no. I heard it from Ark-oppa.”
“Ark! Are you an acquaintance of Ark?”
“Yes, yes. Does grandpa also remember Ark-oppa? I heard he’d come here.”
“Of course I remember! How could I forget Ark? He was a great young man with proper manners and is considerate of others, which is a trait uncommonly seen in people these days.
“Also, his bravery is like none other. There was a time when he saved us from a crisis everyone had neglected. The event is still fresh in my memory. Ah, but what relationship do you have with Ark?”
At Hansen’s question, Roco blushed and giggled.
“Excuse me, where do I have to go to meet Ark-oppa?”
“I wonder? Last time I saw him, I heard he was going to Jackson Castle. However, quite a bit of time has passed since then so I’m not sure if he is still there. Why are you looking for him?”
“It’s been a really long time since I’ve seen him. Last week, he suddenly took a leave of absence from the mart and hasn’t returned… I thought I might be able to meet him if I came here. I also wanted to try this once, while I had the chance.”
Hansen tilted his head as if it was a term he had never heard of before.
Roco quickly shook her head.
“Nothing. You do not need to know. Anyway, how can I get to Jackson Castle?”
“Surely you’re not going to go right now?”
“Why not? I can’t go right now?”
“Ho ho ho, look here, little Roco. Jackson Castle is a place very far away. You’ll have to walk non-stop for days before reaching it. In addition, the road is incomparably rough, and there are countless dangers lurking about. A beginner adventurer like you would become a wolf’s meal before you could even take a few steps away from the village. Since you’re an acquaintance of Ark, I’ll advise you with good intentions. If you want to go to Jackson Castle, you’ve got to gain enough experience first.”
“How do you gain experience?”
“If you want, I can introduce to you a suitable job.”
‘Ah, this must be what you call a quest!’
“Yes, then I’ll work.”
As Roco recalled the stories she heard from here and there, and nodded her head.
But after she listened to Hansen’s words, she immediately lost her nerve.
The quest Hansen gave her was none other than defeating what she feared most, mice. Roco, who had agonized over it briefly, set her lips in a firm line and courageously casted her fears away.
‘Che, am I an idiot? What am I afraid of? No matter how realistic it may seem to be, this is still inside a game. Even if they were called mice, it will probably look more like Mickey-mouse or Pikachu. It’s a little discomfiting having to crush things as cute as them, but there’s no helping it. Since this is a game.’
“Yes, I’ll be heading out now.”
Roco bowed as she smiled cutely and left for the tavern.
Roco went to the tavern and chatted with Kraydon about Ark before entering the warehouse. In an instant, she screamed at New World’s terrifying realism.
“Kyaahhh! What, what is this? The mouse here looks bigger and scarier than a mouse in real life!”
The mice who were previously swarming around the warehouse, focused their attention on Roco. Blood had drained from Roco’s face, and she quickly whirled around.
“I-, I can’t! Fight these mice…. I, I can’t do it! I’m not going to do it! Mister Kraydon, I wanna come out! Please open the door!”
Just then, Roco knocked over a stack of boxes, which wobbled and collapsed, blocking the door.
Then, a scarlet light flashed in front of Roco’s eyes.
– You have been attacked by a mouse. Damage 1.
However, Roco wasn’t even concerned by the damage she had taken.
A mouse the size of her forearm came right up to her nose and bared its teeth. Rather than the damage she incurred, this was much more frightening.
With an expression on her face looking like she was on the verge of fainting, she screamed and climbed up the nearby stack of boxes. After frantically panicking, Roco belatedly thought of an escape plan.
“Oh, tha-that’s right. This is a game. I can just log out. Disconnect!”
Game or not, she just wanted to flee the warehouse teeming with mice. However, as a brief message window popped up, even her last hope sputtered away.
– You may not log out during combat. Please try again after finishing the battle.
“This is ridiculous! It can’t be like this! Save me. Aack! Please save me. Wah~ wah~!”
Roco bawled her eyes out as she barely managed to push off a mouse crawling up to her with the tip of her foot.
Unfortunately, in New World, there was no one who would save her even if she continually cried for help. In the end, Roco was trapped in the warehouse, unable to log out or escape. And so she wailed and wailed until she eyes became puffy.
How many hours has it been? Her throat was too sore to let out another scream. Then a new message window appeared.
You have learned a new skill.
Lady’s Wail (Beginner, Active): The wail of a Lady full of sorrows, making even irrational enemy feel guilt.
In addition, it will make an ally feel inclined to leap into fire for the sake of the Lady. However, this skill will only trigger when the player feels tremendous fear.
Enemy attack speed, movement speed, and morale decrease by 20% for 30 seconds, and ally attack speed, movement speed, and morale increase by 20% for 30 seconds.
Mana Cost: 20
* * *
* * *
At that time, Ark was grinning as he walked down the streets of Jackson.
“I feel slightly better now.
The constant irritation that had remained in a corner of his heart about playing the game had disappeared.
He had no intention of forgiving mistakes. People were quick to forgive those who whined that it was a mistake even after doing something bad, so bad guys didn’t learn their lesson and a just society couldn’t be realized.
Evil doers had to pay the due price. If you’re wronged, pay them back right away– that was justice. That was Ark’s view on life.
Ark was finally able to achieve his justice.
Since Ark endured until Andel logged in if he didn’t after 24 hours, Ark hadn’t slept even a wink for two days. Despite that, he wasn’t even a little tired. Rather, he was so refreshed that he felt he could fly.
Justice was a good thing after all.
‘Now, shall we go and finish the quest now?’
Ark went to find Raymond’s house with a vibrant expression on his face.
As soon as Ark went in, Raymond stared at him with a shocked expression.
“Ah! Y-you… returned. No way… did you bring that mineral?”
Ark smiled coldly and nodded his head. Then he took out the Blood Crystal and dropped it onto the table with a clink.
Raymond’s face as he saw the Blood Crystal was filled with horror.
“You look quite surprised. Are you disappointed I’ve returned alive?”
“N-no. Wh-why would I?”
“After all, you must be disappointed since someone you sent as fodder returned safe and sound.”
“Wh-what are you talking about? Fodder?”
Raymond denied it as he shook his head vigorously. But he was unable to hide the anxiety in his eyes.
There was no need to rush.
With a leisurely expression, Ark slowly drove him into a corner.
“You said that you went into that cave frequently. If that’s so, then of course you would know of the Golem’s existence. However, up till I went to the cave, I didn’t hear even a single word about the Golem from you, even though you knew it would be difficult to defeat the Golem with my strength. No, you sent me because you judged that it would be difficult for me to defeat it. From the beginning, the reason you sent me was to use me as food for the Golem that was raising the Blood Crystal within it.”
Raymond was startled and flinched when he heard the word ‘Blood Crystal.’
“Ho-how in the world did you hear about something like a Blood Crystal…?”
Raymond quickly avoided eye contact as he mumbled something like an excuse.
“I-I don’t know what you are saying.”
“Is that so?”
Ark shrugged and turned around.
“I understand. Then it looks like I have to find the Lord and ask him.”
“Wa-wait a minute!”
Astonished, Raymond tightly grasped onto Ark’s arm.
“Wha-what exactly do you want?”
“Are you admitting that you did it?”
Ark put on a wicked smile as he made his jab.
Raymond lowered his shoulders as if in despair and heaved a sigh.
“There, there was nothing I could do, either. If you know about the Blood Crystal, you must also know that it’s not just mineral. That’s right, the Blood Crystal is a magical mineral storing an ancient power. A long time ago, I held it by accident and was fascinated by that magical power. In the end, in order to cultivate the rest of the Blood Crystal that wanted more knowledge, I ended up planting it in the Golem’s body. And then I used strangers like you. But now, even that has come to an end. How would I have known that someone among the strangers would perhaps know of the Blood Crystal…”
Once he broke down, Raymond confessed everything in a steady stream.
As he stared at Ark with bitter eyes, he spoke, “I’ll confess everything I told you to the guards as well. In return, couldn’t you give me just a few days off?”
‘Seems like he’s a very stupid person.’
Ark snorted and was about to refuse.
Suddenly, he heard a coughing sound from Raymond’s room. Startled, Raymond quickly leapt into the room.
Ark followed him in and saw a young child coughing, who was obviously very sick, on a small bed.
With a tearful face, Raymond held the child’s hand.
“Oh, oh, my baby. Papa is right here.”
“P-papa… cough, cough!”
The child broke out into a cold sweat as he coughed violently.
While staring blankly at that sight, Ark asked, “Are you perhaps…”
“Please don’t ask anymore questions. It’s all over. In any case, the Golem was crushed while the Blood Crystal was in an incomplete state. No, even if the Blood Crystal was somehow completed, there’s no guarantee that the illness would be cured. I don’t resent you. And if you just wait a few days for me, I’ll be sure to turn myself into the guards. I beg of you. Please allow this hopeless father to watch over this poor child’s last road.”
As he looked at the beseeching Raymond, Ark was speechless.
He had no idea why he kept running into this kind of situation.
Indeed, he could definitely understand Raymond’s feelings. If his mother could completely recover, Ark would do anything. If he’d been in the same situation as Raymond, he would have done the same.
However, Raymond was an NPC. The dying child was also an NPC.
He knew. He knew that if he just finished the quest and received his reward, that would be the end of it. But why did he feel such an uncomfortable sensation? Why did he see his mother lying on her sickbed, why couldn’t he bring himself to just turn around and find the guard?
Ark roughly shoved Raymond and grabbed the child’s hand.
“You’re okay. You’ll be able to recover your health just as your father wishes. You’ll be able to go outside and run like the other children while freeing the laughter that’s locked inside your chest.”
It was then, when Ark used his Nursing Skill. The Blood Crystal Ark was holding in his hands suddenly turned to dust and disappeared. Rays of light abruptly emerged from the dust, which was then absorbed by the child’s body.
At the same time, a dramatic change occurred in the child’s body. The coughing stopped in an instant and color returned to his face.
Miracle Nursing has succeeded.
You must convey the sincerity born of the sentiment called nursing to your patient– only then can it truly gain meaning. Sometimes, an illness or the like that cannot be cured with any kind of miraculous medicine or magic can be cured by sincerity.
Now, children who receive this sincere Nursing will recover completely; as you hoped, they will live vigorously while speaking of you as their benefactor of good deed to many people.
*From succeeding Miracle Nursing, all your stats have increased by 1 each.
* You have acquired a new stat, Affection (+10)
It will raise the success rate and effect of all actions that require affection by its numerical value.
Stat distribution is not possible, it will increase when you have done a good deed great enough to be talked about by other people.
* Fame has increased by 50.
* Your alignment to Good has increased by 50.
Since you succeeded Miracle Nursing, you have earned the title of Caretaker.
As a Caretaker, your fame increases and you will receive the praises of many of the sick.
* As a title-related bonus, all stats increase by 1 each.
* Fame increases by 50.
“H-how can this be!”
Raymond stared at Ark with a bewildered expression.
However, the truly bewildered person was Ark. He just used it once because he felt sorry just watching, but he hadn’t known that it would yield this kind of result. After staring at the child with dumbfounded eyes, Ark felt embarrassed to look at Raymond who was pouring out tears, so he quickly left the room.
“I’m gonna leave. Whether you turn yourself into the guard or not, do what you want.”
“Dammit, to give up a quest that’s almost completed… I must be crazy.’
To be honest, he did feel regret. However, Ark quickly shook his head.
It was a G difficulty quest anyways. Even if he let the guards know, he’d only receive that much of a reward. But Ark had already received a reward he hadn’t even imagined. All stats +2! As a bonus, since his agitation had also disappeared, now something like the quest was nothing.
‘The hell, I don’t know. Should I just delete the quest?’
“Pl-please wait a minute!”
He’d left the house, but Raymond hurriedly followed him.
Then he grabbed Ark’s hand tightly as he pulled something out for him. One was the ingredient for making the Tool Box, Ailard Powder, and the other was a booklet with a faint light shining around it.
“Don’t you need to take the Ailard Powder? And this book is our family’s inherited heirloom. Although I still haven’t been able to properly interpret its meaning, it might be possible if it’s you. I’m sorry I can only give something like this. I beg you, please take it.”
Ark wasn’t one to refuse something like this. As Ark snatched and packed it away, Raymond spoke as he bowed.
“Thank you for accepting it. Also, I will definitely turn myself into the guard if my little boy gets well, like I promised to you. It’s not because I’m afraid you’ll accuse me, but because I want to become an honorable father to my little boy. So don’t worry about me anymore.”
Thu-thu-thump, the quest information window opened.
The Secrets of the Blood Crystal quest has been completed.
You have found the hidden ending of Alchemist Raymond’s request-type quest.
Hereby, the Alchemist Raymond sincerely confessed and is repenting on his sin. He will keep his promise to turn himself in and receive punishment.
Special reward: Experience +5000, Raymond’s Secret Book (Rare), Fame +50
Through Raymond’s Secret Book (Rare), you have learned a new skill.
Magic Restoration (Special, Beginner, Active): Using Mana, any kind of item can be restored to their original condition. However, if a novice uses it, the item’s maximum durability will be cut by 10% each.
Decreased durability will cease to exist. If skill level rises, it will be possible to fully restore general items and repair higher level magic items.
Mana Consumption: 10
‘A hidden ending!’
Ark’s jaw dropped.
Although he hadn’t even imagined it, it seemed the child’s coughing sound was actually a diverging point of the quest. Thanks to that, Ark had gone up a level and had even learned the repair skill he’d regretted so much.
Although there was a penalty to the durability unlike the normal repair, the explanation that full repair was possible if he raised the skill level was also attached. In any case, he had learned a skill that only Warriors could.
Kind acts were rewarded after all.
Moreover, Ark hadn’t gotten the real reward he’d worked towards yet. When Ark returned with the Ailard Powder, Norton rejoiced.
“Ooh, so you got it. Thank you. Now I can supply General and Deluxe Toolboxes, 100 each, to the Lord. I’ll deliver it, so don’t worry. And here, this is your share. The 8 percent I agreed to discount you on calculates in money to 200 gold, and that’s left after the price of the 2 Deluxe Tool Boxes from last time. 11 Deluxe Tool Boxes.”
He still needed the Tool Box since Magic Restoration was still beginner level.
Ark stored the toolboxes inside his bag and headed towards the plaza.
* * *
The plaza’s bulletin board was pasted full of countless flyers. Guild recruitment ads… and even wanted flyers were there.
If a Chaotic user’s infamy rose, the Lord or the NPC Guard Chief would post wanted flyers like this.
Ordinarily the NPCs took care of it, but there were also users who specialized in hunting wanted criminals. That was because they could obtain magic items more comfortably than by catching a boss monster.
However, the flyer Ark was scrutinizing was something different.
A newsletter: it was a flyer similar to New World’s regional newspaper. A newly discovered region, brief information about a dungeon, or an event taking place in various villages and the like were written.
Ark was of a mind to finish up his Jackson life if he rose another 1 or 2 levels. Then he planned to choose a few places from among the regions that looked alright and leave for an adventure. Since there were no quests he had received, he was uncertain about deciding his destination.
Just then, he heard a loud “wow” from one side of the village.
When he turned to look, a huge crowd was gathered at the plaza.
“Wow, are those people part of the expedition to raid the Labyrinth of Tarsha?”
“Have you heard the quest difficulty is ++C?”
“Holy shit. I haven’t even received an E rank quest yet.”
“We wouldn’t be able to do it even if we received one. Our levels are different.”
“Just look at their gear. They’re all plastered with Magic items and even Rares.”
“Sigh, when will I be able to put on one of those.”
“Look there, it’s Sir Alan!”
The chattering people’s attention focused to one side.
The person who approached as he received their attention was a Knight riding a white horse. He was a handsome Knight with flowing golden hair wearing a flashing full plate armor set that you could tell was a Rare item at first sight. His arrival took everyone’s breath away.
“I think someone said Sir Alan job-changed to ‘Holy Knight,’ one of the hidden professions.”
Holy Knight was one of the few known hidden professions.
“So that’s why there are a lot of soldiers who look like NPCs.”
“Ooh, just look at that item. New World was launched only recently…”
“They say he started one month after the launch, later than us.”
“The gear of the people who are participating in the attack party with him are no joke either.”
A raid gathered several parties to complete ++difficulty quests that couldn’t be completed with just one party.
It was usually made up of only users, but depending on the quest story, sometimes NPCs joined too. In particular, for a character with high fame like the Holy Knight, the chance of NPCs joining rose.
‘So that’s the highly rumored Holy Knight.’
Although Ark had heard rumors about him here and there, it was his first time seeing him. While Ark was currently satisfied with his profession of being a Dark Walker, at first Ark had also wanted to choose a Warrior-type hidden profession like that.
Granted, no matter what type it was, finding a hidden profession quest was like finding a needle in a haystack….
While Ark was staring blankly at the people, someone from the crowd suddenly approached him.
It was a female Magician with a black robe and her hood lowered all the way to her chin.
“Are you by any chance Mr. Kim Hyun Woo?”
A dumbfounded expression arose on Ark’s face.
He’d never imagined that someone would call him by his real name in a game where there was not a single person he knew.
Furthermore, it was a woman? He had no idea who it was.
“That’s right… who are you?”
“Ah, so I was right after all. I thought it might be you since you had the same face.”
“Do you know me?”
The Magician took off her deeply lowered hood.
Ark squinted as he looked her over. The Magician was a pointy-eared female Elf. He was definitely seeing this character for the first time, but somehow she felt familiar. His memory wavered dimly between remembrance and oblivion.
As Ark titled his head, she smiled with a sheepish expression.
“Ah, seems like you don’t quite recognize me after all. Have I modified my appearance too much, perhaps?”
Ark was finally able to recognize her after seeing her smiling face.
“Ah! Are you perhaps the person I saw at the interview?”
“Yes, I’m Kang Misu. Here, I go by the name Lariette.”
“Right, my character’s name is Ark.”
Ark quickly bowed his head to greet her.
He didn’t know why he couldn’t recognize her face right away. Actually, Ark had thought of her several times so far. No, to be truthful, he’d thought of her quite often. It was natural to feel favorable towards a woman who had shown interest in him in an unfamiliar place and had even cheered him on, especially since she was a woman whose beauty that outshone that of an idol. But that was that. He hadn’t even hoped for an opportunity like meeting her again.
But to meet in a place like this by chance, and it was she who first recognized and talked to him on top of it…
“So you started as an Elf.”
“Yes, it’s a bit strange, right?”
“No, it suits you well.”
They weren’t empty words. There were few people who suited the Elf this much.
At Ark’s compliment, Lariette toyed with her pointy ears as her face reddened.
“But it looks like you’re going to participate in the raid this time.”
“Yes, my level isn’t quite there yet, but I entered through an invitation from someone I know.”
“What is your level?”
“I got a lot of help from the person I know, but I’m still only at 50.”
Lariette replied with an embarrassed expression.
“Yes. Is something the matter?”
“Oh, no. Your level is quite higher than I anticipated.”
“What level is Ark-nim at?”
“I am now 35…”
As Ark responded in a voice as loud as ants crawling on the ground, Lariette revealed a rather surprised expression. Then she followed by shaking her head with a disappointed expression.
“I’m sorry to say something like this, but Ark-nim, that’s a little severe. Actually, among the candidates, I’m on the low side of levels. The likely people are around level 70. The attack party leader Alan-nim is also a candidate, but this time his level went over 75. Honestly with Ark-nim’s level…”
Even if he didn’t hear the rest of it, he could guess her next words. It was probably that it would be difficult for him to pass Global Exos’ test. He’d basically known, but hearing it right in front of him sucked the energy out of him.
Just then, the Knight riding the white horse approached from behind Lariette. It was Alan, the Holy Knight.
“Lariette-nim, what are you doing there?”
“I met someone I know, so I was just having a little talk.”
“Someone you know?”
Alan examined Ark up and down with a slightly uncomfortable eye.
“Ark-nim is also an applicant.”
“Then your level must be alright. The quest this time has quite a high difficulty so we’re low on people, so this is good. Would you like to join the raid?”
“No, Ark-nim is still….”
Lariette studied Ark’s expression as she whispered something to Alan. As soon as she did so, a flash of ridicule glimmered through Alan’s eyes. ..
“Well, each person has their own circumstance. Excuse me.”
Alan turned his horse as if there was nothing left to see.
“Now then, Lariette-nim, let us be off.”
“Ah, yes. I’ll be going now. Please work hard.”
Lariette stared at Ark with bittersweet eyes before turning around. Ark felt an empty feeling while watching her back. He felt like his hope was walking away from him with her.
Actually, Ark had felt smug these last few days.
He had grown used to the Dark Walker profession, and he’d ruined Andel, who’d been far ahead of him. Not long ago, he’d even found a quest’s hidden ending and had received a reward up to his expectation. It seemed like everything was progressing almost too smoothly.
He had even thought that he might have a chance at passing the much-hoped for Global Exos’ test.
But in the end, that was all just his delusion.
Ark’s rivals, the other candidates, were going to do a ++C difficulty quest from an unimaginably high place. The difference between them and Ark was one that he had vaguely expected.
That’s right. He’d expected it to some extent.
Unlike them, Ark couldn’t afford to concentrate on playing games all day. So over time, the difference was bound to grow. In addition, he’d wasted a whole two weeks of time in Harun Village, so this much difference might be certain.
He’d known. He knew, but…
‘Dammit. I feel really shitty.’
An unbearable feeling surged and welled up.
It wasn’t just because he had fallen behind the other candidates. Alan’s ridicule-filled eyes. And Lariette, who followed him.
When he looked back at the scene, Ark felt like he had just lost Lariette to Alan. It was just something within a game, but New World was a game that was more real than reality. So he felt the sense of defeat more keenly than in real life.
He didn’t want to lose anymore.
No matter what the cost!
* * *
‘It’ll be really bad at this rate.’
After seeing Alan leading the attack party, Hyun Woo couldn’t shake off his testiness.
When the Planning Director Ha Myung Woo gave her speech in the interview hall, she had said they weren’t going to just look at levels. However, level was one of the absolute numbers in the game.
A higher level player can hunt stronger monsters. Naturally, the chances of getting a better item increased, they could proceed to a broader expanse of regions, and they could receive higher difficulty quests. In the end, level was an absolute value in all senses.
Falling behind from that meant failing the test soon.
He had to catch up. It was the only method of survival.
‘Is there any way to increase my game time?’
As always, the problem was time.
He was confident he could catch up if he could concentrate on the game with the same amount of time as the other candidates. However, Hyun Woo could only invest just 6 hours in one day. He had to decrease his sleeping time while fighting fatigue to make even that time possible.
To be honest, he didn’t expect much for Global Exos’ test.
He still thought so even now. However, if he was to fail the test, he wouldn’t be able to play New World anymore. He didn’t know what would happen after one or two months, but in the end, he wouldn’t be able to meet Ark, the character he’d raised with such care, ever again. His efforts so far would all be wasted.
Forgetting how Ark had suffered his disregard was unacceptable.
Ark was Hyun Woo himself. Insulting Ark was no different than insulting Hyun Woo. If he could, he wanted to raise his level like crazy and strip Alan like Andel and laugh as much as he wanted at him.
Even so, he couldn’t give up reality because of a game.
Although the money paid to him by Global Exos was enough for him to get by, he still couldn’t afford his mother’s hospital fee if he didn’t work. Even now, wasn’t it true that the wage he received from the mart, his three part-time jobs, and the money from Global Exos was only barely enough to cover it?
‘Even so, I can’t keep increasing the debt here…’
What a dilemma, it was a situation in which he couldn’t do it even if he did this or tried that.
‘Half a year! No, even for just a couple of months, is there no way I can concentrate on playing the game?’
Just then, news he had seen a few days ago suddenly flashed in his mind.
It was an article about buying and selling in game items. Now that he thought of it, he vaguely remembered hearing stories of people making a lot of money just by selling game items.
Now that item trading was completely legal, it was a time when item trading occupied one place in the market. Hyun Woo did remember his school days when he’d earned pocket-money from selling items in an online game. He just hadn’t been able to connect that to living expenses, but it was certain that items could become money.
For a game like New World, items could definitely be sold more expensively.
‘Maybe I could sell items and use the money from the sale to pay for mother’s hospital fees? Well, with my current level, the items I can get won’t get that much money, but… New World hasn’t been open for very long anyways. There’ll be many people who need items that I can obtain at my level. Yeah, let’s try at least looking it up once.’
Hyun Woo found and entered the auction site that he’d auctioned in ages ago.
As expected, New World’s item auction was actively growing.
As he searched through the catalogue, seeing the market prices made his jaw drop.
“Wh-what is this? Is this really the price of a game item?”
The items of New World were being sold at an unimaginable price.
When Hyun Woo had played his online game, items worth tens of hundreds, tens of millions of won had been traded, but those were items for the very top level players.
However, New World was a whole different level.
A price of one gold was equivalent to 10,00 won (~$10), and a magic sword for level 20-30s was being sold for at least a million won (~$1,000).
For Rare or Uniques, depending on the stats, they ranged from several hundred thousand won to ten million won.
Indeed, the items were valuable. It was a world that Hyun Woo, who would skip a few meals in order to save a few thousand won, couldn’t even imagine.
‘1 gold equals 10,000 won… Then the toolboxes I’ve obtained today are worth two million won!’
It really shocked him.
‘Maybe the items I have can also be sold at a high price?’
After agonizing, Hyun Woo tried posting the Blood-red Mantle of Dreams on the auction. It was a level 20’s Unique item that demonstrated an immense advantage in a fight against a user.
It was a treasure Hyun Woo cherished, but there wasn’t really any other item he could sell that was worth much money. Then, like fire, within a few minutes hundreds of bidders entered the bidding war. After an hour had passed, the price had soared to 4 million won (~4,000 USD).
It was equivalent to 2 months of Hyun Woo’s salary and a half a month of hospital fees.
It was mind-boggling.
‘Holy smokes, what have I been doing all this time?’
Even though it was Unique, it was limited to level 20 and even had a curse on it.
But 4 million won in just one hour! He hadn’t even imagined that a single item like that would rake in an enormous price like this.
However, Hyun Woo was unaware of a simple truth.
It was exactly because of Global Exos’ candidates. New World’s items were expensive to begin with, but it hadn’t been this much. But as the candidates shook the money bag, like a gust of wind, even the prices of low-level items had exploded several times their price within one month.
Andel was the same. You couldn’t drink recovery potions like water by making gold like normal. That ruthless power of luxury came from cash. In any case, to Hyun Woo, the entire situation felt like a light of salvation.
‘This is it. This is exactly it!’
The way to focus on only playing the game!
‘I can earn money from the game!’
After finally finding the method, he felt more furious that he hadn’t known until now.
At the end of the auction, the Blood-red Mantle of Dreams was sold for 4,500,000 won.
He also auctioned off Andel’s plated armor set because although the defense was good, there was too much of a penalty for users who weren’t Warriors. Even though it was normal armor, in the end it sold for 2,500,000 won.
Although he was regretful about selling them, he disregarded that after thinking of it as an investment.
If he could concentrate on the game all day, there was nothing to regret.
By selling the mantle and Andel’s armor, two months of hospital fees had already fallen into his hands. It was small, but it meant he could just play the game without thinking about anything else for two months. If he made money like this, he might even be able to buy a unit one day.
Even if he were to fail the test, if he can continue to play New World, he could earn money.
‘Alright, we’re gonna try this!’
For the first time, Hyun Woo had embarked on the path of a professional gamer.
The next day, 7,000,000 won (~$7,000) was deposited into his bank account.
As soon as Hyun Woo confirmed the balance in his account, he headed to the Mart. The owner poured curses on him for not showing up for a week. In the face of that, Hyun Woo politely handed his resignation over and fled the mart.
There hadn’t been anyone who’d been particularly friendly with Ark. He didn’t feel even a little wisp of something like regret.
If there was just one person that he regretted, it was his coworker Hye Sun. Hye Sun, who had never lost her smile although she faced difficult circumstances at home, like Hyun Woo. Even Hyun Woo, who’d never given much care to other people, thought affectionately of her as a little sister.
It was inadequate, but he wanted to personally explain his situation at least to her.
“It might be laughable that I’m quitting because of a game, but it’s something extremely important to me.”
“But this suddenly…”
Hye Sun made a tearful face.
“Don’t be too sad. My mother’s hospital is nearby, anyways. Whenever I come and go, I’ll come buy you a drink. And if anything happens, call me any time; whether it’s mice or whatever, I’ll come catch them for you right away.”
“Mice…” Hye Sun giggled as she muttered to herself, “Alright, that other thing… now anything is fine.”
Hye Sun looked aloof, as if she’d peeled away a layer of worry.
“By the way oppa, if it’s for the game, you’re always going to be in New World, right?”
“Yeah, I will.”
“Well then, okay. I’ll see you in there.”
“What? You started playing New World? What’s your in game name?”
“It’s still a secret. I’ll come find you soon. Wherever you are,” Hye Sun replied with a beautiful smile.
* * *
A spooky laughter echoed in the Shadow Forest.
The person with a bat and a skull beside him, exuding an aura stained with greed was none other than Ark.
It was not the same Ark as yesterday. The determination to do his absolute utmost was alive in Ark’s face. It was a definite change. From today, Ark had been reborn as a professional gamer.
“Master, why are you acting like that? It’s frightening.”
Sensing Ark’s change, Bat became terrified and shivered.
“Shut up. You get ready too– from now on there’ll be no breaks. Bat, go scout the surroundings. Find a place where there’ll be a lot of gathered monsters.”
“I-I get it. Calm down.”
With his sword raised, Ark pounded through the Shadow Forest like a madman.
“Wait and see, Alan! One day I will make you fall on your knees right in front of me!”
The entire Shadow Forest heaved. In the past, he had fled if he thought it might be a large group, but now, he went around looking for places where the monsters gathered instead. And when he discovered one, his eyes flashed as he charged.
It wasn’t madness, but greed that soaked his sword as it slashed down helpless Zombies and Ghouls helplessly. That wasn’t all. He stripped away all the food ingredients he could call ingredients in the area to the point that the forest felt chilly.
‘I can’t afford to complain about my profession. Since I’ve already chosen it, I’ll become the best with this profession. And to become the best, I have to apply 100 percent of the profession’s special characteristic!”
Ark did not rest even for just a minute.
If he rested for a moment to recover his Health, he immediately made Survival Cooking and shoveled food into his Familiars.
“Sa-save us! PLEASE STOP!”
The Bat and Skull exploded with screams, but Ark had no mercy. That was because raising his Familars’ stats meant Ark would become stronger.
Whenever he acquired an equipment drop from a monster, he would repair it continuously with restore magic until the durability dropped to 1. In order to save even a penny, it was necessary to increase his restore magic early on. It was the same for other skills as well.
No matter which skill it was, if he just raised it, he would either become stronger or it would cost him less money.
There was a reason to raise it with his life on the line.
“Give me your experience! Give me your money! Give me your items!”
At Ark’s frenzied hunting, Undead monsters and the like now furtively avoided him. While his motivation overflowed at even the sight of an Undead’s head, right as he was on the brink of exploding in anger, Ark detected an incredibly dangerous opponent.
A few days after starting to hunt like this, a formidable monster showed up at last. The medium boss that emerged if you slayed a certain number of Undead monsters, the Reaper. A Reaper with a blurred figure approached him cloaked in a black robe as it swung its enormous scythe.
“How dare you make a ruckus in my territory!”
A low cry shook the Shadow Forest.
A truly terrifying sight. However, it only appeared as a lump of experience in Ark’s eyes.
Ark’s level had already become 39 though hunting in the Shadow Forest. With his 20 percent ability bonus in the dark applied, he was no different from a player in the late 40s.
He had raised his skills dramatically, so Sword-Hand Combat had also reached Intermediate.
Even if the Reaper was a level 50 monster, there was no reason to fear it.
“I don’t have time to chat. Come at me!”
“Kukuku. To come at the chief gatekeeper of the spirit world for a human subject, you childish rotten bastard!”
The Reaper rushed towards Ark as it swung its scythe.
Ark quickly dove within melee range as he loosed Dark Blade.
As a BOOM sound echoed, the Reaper wobbled as it stepped back.
The Bat and Skull rammed the Reaper on both sides at the same time.
The Bat and Skull were both desperate. That was because the amount of food they had to eat would depend on the result at the end of the battle.
“Kwak, these little…!”
While the Reaper was still wobbly, Ark used Cat’s Eyes.
The Reaper’s Health appeared above its head as red points were drawn here and there on its body. They were weaknesses perceived through Cat’s Eyes.
As he ravaged the red points, the Reaper’s health dropped noticeably.
Once its Health was cut to half, a black aura erupted from the Reaper’s body.
“Feel the fear of death!”
Bat and Skull, who were swept by the aura of horror, convulsed and stiffened.
The Reaper swung its scythe at Ark as if to end him with one stroke. But the scythe was blocked by the sword Ark swung and bounced off.
The Reaper’s eyes were stained with disbelief.
“H-how can this be? A human was able to overcome his fear of death?”
“I’m more afraid of poverty than death!”
Ark pushed forward coldly as he swung his sword.
Dark Walkers had a 50% resistance to Fear. That went up another 20% in the dark. If it wasn’t a Fear used by a monster with a huge level difference, there was almost no possibility of him getting hexed by it.
After Ark resisted the Fear, the Reaper cringed even more. After that, Ark had full control of the battle.
As his Sword-Hand Combat attacks fell like a max-output storm on the Reaper, it quickly dropped into critical condition.
The Reaper couldn’t take it anymore and attempted to flee despite the humiliation.
“Argh! Ju-just wait and see!”
“You think I’d let you go?! Dark Blade!”
Ark narrowed the distance in a single breath and loosed Dark Blade on the Reaper’s back, which was rife with red spots.
His mana was increased by 100 because of the Crystal Golem Head he was equipping. Thanks to that, he could cast Dark Blade three times even after using Cat’s Eyes.
One, two, three!
Critical hits exploded in quick succession. The Reaper’s Health hit the bottom at last, and it screamed with a burst of charcoal miasma. Then the body appeared to slowly dim, then suddenly disappeared with an intense explosion.
“KUAAAK! FOR THI-THIS BODY TO BE DEFEATED BY THE LIKES OF A HUMAN…!”
Ark had no interest in something like the Reaper’s dying words.
The only thing that held Ark’s interest was the large scythe the Reaper had dropped.
It was a weapon two times stronger than the Sharply Shining Sword that Ark used.
Even considering that it was a two-handed weapon, it was a weapon with a considerably high attack damage.
The options were good too since there were many occasions where one had to fight Undead when they were under level 40. Although Ark couldn’t use it because it was a Warrior-use weapon, he still made a satisfied smile.
‘It’ll sell for a nice price since there are a lot of Warrior users.’
The Reaper was a monster with an atrocious item drop-rate. Even this much could be called a bonanza.
From 80% experience, he immediately went up a level after killing the Reaper.
‘Finally level 40! I have achieved my goal in the Shadow Forest!’
Ark urgently opened his status window to distribute his stats.
Sword-Hand Combat (Intermediate:113/300): Polishes Hand-to-Hand Combat and Sword Mastery to increase overall fighting power.
Survival Cooking (Beginner: 92/100) Makes unidentified dishes with ingredients obtained from nature.
Indomitable Will (Beginner: 68/100) When in critical condition, Attack Power, Critical Hit Chance, and Recovery Speed are increased.
Indomitable Body (Beginner: 61/100) When in critical condition, Defense, Critical Hit Evasion, and Recovery Speed are increased.
Foraging (Beginner: 82/100) Food ingredients from nature can be gathered.
Ingredient Identification (Beginner: 71/100) Confirms effect of ingredient
Riding (Beginner: 3/100) Can handle a horse more skillfully with greater skill level.
Nursing (Intermediate: 149/300) Gives hope, energy, and courage to patients.
Spirit of the Cat (Advanced: 374/500) Plants fear in mice and other small monsters, sealing off their movements; their Attack Power, Defense, and Morale are sharply decreased.
Eyes of the Cat (Beginner: 88/100) Penetrates the enemy with a sharp gaze.
Restore Magic (Beginner: 59/100) Restore an item to its original state.
Profession Only Skills
Dark Blade (Beginner:42/100) Deals a one-hit blow to the enemy’s weak point.
Summon Demon (Beginner:24/100) Summons up to three demons from the Netherworld.
With determination, his skill development also quickened enormously.
If he put every ounce of his energy into each and every sword strike when he used Sword-Hand Combat and preciously devoted his entire soul to Foraging, even if he used them the same number of times, his skill proficiency growth doubled in speed.
This was a fact he’d realized while nursing Viscount Haverstein. However, Ark had not utilized this knowledge properly until now.
You didn’t just do one thing in the game. Hunting, foraging, resting, cooking, trading, etc.. the work to be done was as high as a mountain. It wasn’t easy to put his heart and soul into every single one of those actions, especially for Ark, who played the game while reducing sleeping time.
But now, the situation was different.
Ark had now become someone who makes a livelihood by being a gamer.
‘New World is the only way to live! I must get stronger if only to survive!’
It seemed like his stats and skills reflected the last few intense days.
Plus, a few of his skills were on the brink of rising from Beginner to Intermediate. Until those skills all became Intermediate, Ark would swiftly develop them once again. In addition, his Familiars’ stats had also gone up a few times, so now they were quite useful.
‘Now, if I just raise my level once or twice and my skills also go up, I can hunt level 50 monsters with little trouble.’
However, Ark still felt he was lacking something.
Although he’d already killed the level 50 monster Reaper without much difficulty, that was only possible because he received the bonus from the dark. Honestly, it was still too much to fight level 50s. There.. utilized all sorts of skills.
‘That’s right, I shouldn’t be satisfied with just this. I still have a long way to go to catch up to Alan.’
Global Exos’ employment test and item hunting to make money. These two were his greatest objectives in playing New World. And catching up to Alan became one of Ark’s goals to achieve.
Since that day when he was humiliated in front of Lariette…
‘Anyways, since I’ve caught the Reaper now, seems its about time to move hunting grounds.’
Just then, his main window unexpectedly popped up in front of his eyes. In the middle of icons lined up in a circle, his bag icon was flashing.
With his head tilted, Ark touched it and opened the bag. The Jewel Hand Mirror he’d earned from defeating Debra was quivering.
“Right, the Hand Mirror was a level 40 quest starter item!”
Ark took out the Hand Mirror.
You have gained a lot of experience. Even if you do not try, the knowledge you have naturally gathered from walking the world, breathing, talking, and listening will become the key that will lead you to yet another adventure.
This is one among the many kinds of items that treasure countless secrets. A mirror that was specially crafted has fallen into your hands through one of your adventures.
You, who possess a rudimentary knowledge of ancient relics, have carefully inspected the mirror. You quickly realized that someone’s memory was sealed inside with ancient power.
Bonus from the knowledge you acquired from observing the Ancient Relic Jewel Hand Mirror:
Knowledge of Ancient Relics +5, Intelligence+2, and Fame has increased by 20.
When you are ready to challenge a new adventure, the mirror will know of your decision on its own and will guide you. However, it is not known if the mirror’s guidance will bring your good luck or unhappiness.
*As you have become level 40, the Jewel Hand Mirror’s seal can be lifted.
Would you like to lift the seal?
There was nothing to hesitate about.
In an instant, an incredible light burst from the Jewel Hand Mirror.
A magical film unfolded with the background of the dark Shadow Forest as the screen.
It was a film that was clear, yet somehow gave off a worn-off feeling, as if it depicted a scene from one part of an old book.
The scene illuminated by the mirror was a beach with a beautiful lighthouse.
A soft breeze caressed the buoyant clouds and gentle waves tumbled as they churned white froth. The sound of singing floated in on the wind on the peaceful beach.
It was a language he’d never heard before. He couldn’t tell the meaning. But the sorrow brimming in the singing shook a place deep inside Ark’s heart. How much time passed like that?
The dreamlike singing gradually faded, and words popped up.
For Christin’s sake…
The Mysterious Mirror’s Whisper
From inside the mysterious mirror, images prompted Debra’s arrival on the unknown beach. An indication of a long and far journey. When you’re ready, go on a journey to the unknown beach and solve the mystery of the mirror. The mirror will serve as your guide and lead you to the lighthouse.
Quest requirement: Requires Knowledge of Ancient Relics.
“It’s a quest!”
Ark, who had stirred from the song with a hazy expression, opened his eyes like a flash.
A quest. Which meant a reward.
It was common sense that rather than catching hundreds of normal monsters, completing one nicely rewarded quest yielded more experience and money.In addition, this quest was started from an item dropped by Debra, which boasted a +E difficulty.
It wasn’t a quest that would end with a reward of just a few gold.
Ark accepted the quest without hesitation.
In an instant, a ray of light extended from the mirror northwards, under the night sky.
“As the lighthouse guides ships… so this is what it meant.”
It was a ray of light that would guide him to the beach of the film.
Ark slung Skull on his back and gazed at Bat, which was circling him as it flapped around.
“Let’s go, Skull, Bat. We will follow this light to solve the quest.”
“Alright, Master. I’ll be good, so don’t feed me food.”
Clack clack clack clack.
Like that, with him leading his two Familiars, Ark walked northwards, where the light extended.
Ark’s adventure was just getting started.
To be continued…