Chapter 0 : Prologue

This chapter is brought to you by AnmesicCat, Baddiez, BDark, Hikaru. Special Thanks to SlightlyInsane.


‘Is this where the reception room is?’

Kim Hyun Woo raised his old glasses.

The building was only a 5 minute walk from the South Seoul station.

The front of the building, the sunlight reflected the words “Global Exos Korea” on a black marble.

Knowing the sign represented a once in a lifetime opportunity; it intimidated him.

He did not have the courage to go in, but he lacked nearly as much courage to turn back.

He took a deep breath and walked into the building.

“I’m here for an interview.”

“Go on up to the third floor.”

The Model-like receptionist motioned him towards the elevator.

“Ah, yes. Thank you.”

While nodding, he stepped back, bowed and walked away. As he heard a stifled laughter from behind him, he began to blush.

He roughly understood why she was laughing.

After abruptly receiving news of the interview he was forced to come for an interview in an oversized borrowed suit.

He became flustered realizing how foolish and ugly he looked wearing the oversized suit.

Of course there were plenty of different contacts but it wouldn’t come close in comparison…

He had arrived on the third floor, and the lounge was filled to capacity.

People in fancy suits were out and about.

Surprisingly some of the people were wearing blue jeans and t-shirts, their faces were filled with confidence showing their work experience.

His eyes became clouded as he thought about going for the interview with these people.
No, he was not sure he could really go to the interview in his current state.

‘Should I not have come? At this rate will I be able to get an opportunity better than this?’

Hyun Woo let out a sigh with an uneasy look on his face.

* * *

Hyun Woo was an ordinary youth. At least until 5 years ago.

He was an average high school student who liked brand-name items, bought the newest cell phone whilst his parents nagged at him, and played games the entire day on the weekends. Up until then, he would often watch the stories of the boys on the T.V., and empathized with them on one hand, while thinking he could never live like the boy in the T.V. That is, until it became reality.

He received an urgent call at school.

He was told his parents had been in a car accident.

WIth one simple call, Hyun Woo’s life was changed.

His father had died, while his mother surviving after numerous operations, but complications still remained.

The cause of the accident was his father’s drowsiness while driving. The victims still had to be compensated. Nevertheless their insurance had expired without renewal so the insurance company claimed it wasn’t their responsibility.

The police and victims attorney had dropped by a few times.

While Hyun Woo had been trying to understand the situation and complicated conversations that had taken place, their house was sold, and they terminated various savings and insurance plans.

To fix that problem, they rented a small apartment. However, his mother still needed to be treated urgently.

Their private medical insurance was bought 10 years ago.

Nevertheless, every time his mother went to the hospital because of a cold, stomach ache, or miscellaneous, she required more treatment than an average person. Together with intensive care she needed, the insurance company’s attitude began to change. They gave him pamphlets written in English and Chinese, while prattling on about changing compensation limit. Because of this, they had to pay 3 to 4 million won in dues every month.

  • It may be tough, but hang in there for your mother. Use this to pay for the hospital fees.

Five uncles from both of the mother’s and father’s side stuck an envelope inside an absent-minded Hyun Woo’s pocket. But they did not show themselves again.

He felt horrible. The money in his pockets only amounted to 3,000,000 won. It was not enough to even cover a month’s hospital bill.

In order to cover living expenses and hospital bills, the debt steadily increased. Hyun Woo realized it for the first time. The little boy who earned a living was shown on T.V, was not mature. He was facing a situation where he had no choice other than to grow up and be mature. The situation makes a person.

He knew very well the meaning of those words. Hyun Woo’s life had changed. Waking up at dawn to do newspaper and milk deliveries then working at a part-time job from evening to dawn in order to gain money. In the past it was inconceivable to wash one’s body while working part-time at a construction site.

His body ached all over but he continued working rather than relaxing.

It was not because he was exceptionally earnest. He had no other choice but to do it. However, his earnings could barely cover the cost of living and hospital expenses.

‘With relatives coming for a visit, I won’t be able to relax because of the noise!’

Every time they arrived, all he could do was clench his fist.

He heard his father had a good personality. There was not a single friend’s family gathering he missed, and he would withdraw from his savings without hesitation whenever a relative got in some big trouble. However, the reward he received from the heavens was almost as if it came out of a novel.

After his father died, and as his mother accrued hospital bills, no one leaped in to help them. Worse, they did not even loan them some money. It was because they did not think they would be able to get the money back. Their relationship was weak because they were made when his family’s situation was still good.

Hyun Woo also became keenly aware of the cold endless reality before he graduated from high school.

No matter how special a person is, in the end they are just like any other person.

‘I exist only to take care of my mother and myself!’

His mind was set on dropping out of high school, but his mother, on her sickbed, would not hear anything about the matter. He had no choice but to deal with it for one more year.

However, after he graduated from high school, it did not improve the situation they were in.

After he graduated High School Hyun Woo set out to look for a job. Although his work had hours increased, other things remained the same. As usual, he worked all day, and his days became filled with anxiety trying to meet the hospital bills and the ever growing debts payments at the end of every month.

He gradually began to envy his peer who carried the latest mobile or wore the latest fashions.

He had also envied those who could have money to spare. It was one thing Hyun Woo could not stop himself from envying. Hyun Woo since an early age had dreamt of being an employee at a video game production company. Before accident occurred, he had often stayed up all night playing games. If not, perhaps another career related to computers.

* * *

Although he abandoned the idea of going to a university he did not abandon his dream.

It was the reason why every month he would pay 300,000 won to attend a private institution.

One day an instructor came up to Hyun Woo and asked.

“Hyun Woo, have you thought of seeking employment at a gaming company?”

“A gaming company?”

“Hmm, a sunbae told me he knows a video game company who are currently recruiting new employees. I was asked to recommend some excellent students, and I was thinking about recommending you. How about it? Would you like to be employed by a gaming company?”

“Would a non-university graduate be acceptable?”

“20 years of age or older is preferable. There’s no gender and educational requirement.”

“Where is it?”
“Have you heard of Global Exos?”
“Yes?”

Hyun Woo froze in place.

It’s expected for education to not be regarded for a small gaming company.

However, not from a company as big as Global Exos! The company was the zenith of all companies in the gaming industry.

They were the first to implement the concept of virtual reality into game, and they’ve also released 2 epic games in which accumulated annual sales of 1 Trillion won.

“What would Global Exos be lacking in order for them to employ people such as myself?”

“I don’t know the details either. According to my sunbae, employee recruitment process is done in various ways, it is very unique. Screening of documents for educational background or work experience is not a priority. And the things were being tested is entirely different and so the way they pay their employees. However with many applicants, it will not be easy… Since I don’t know what interpersonal work is, I’ll try to put the files in.”

* * *

A world where one’s educational background was not prioritized. These were the words once said a long time ago.

However Hyun Woo was not naive enough to instantly believe those words.

Without educational background, it limits the employee a chances for a position in such a large business, and is normally limited to things such as an external position. Even more so with Global Exos, and if he wasn’t accepted he would feel really bad about it.

“Applying with my high school diploma won’t get me accepted accepted. So I’d rather…”

Name: Kim Hyun Woo
Gender: Male Age:22

Educations: S Electronic Engineering 2nd Year, Dropout.

Top seat of the class, without having missed any class.

Although unknown to the Media Network, hacked through their firewall during their conference for testing a mock game system, and became a large issue, which eventually led to voluntary withdrawal.

Global Exos was such a large company. Surely they would not examine the authenticity of each application. When he thought about it, it was impossible for them to do so.

Perhaps, but trying wouldn’t hurt, besides, he’s got nothing to lose..

All this time he had forgotten about the application when unexpected news came.

“The other day when I told you about Global Exos? Your application has passed the screening, and they’ve contacted us.”

Hyun Woo’s instructor was just as surprised as he was.

* * *

While he was daydreaming, the interviewer had already arrived here. In any case, he was given a chance to meet the interviewer.

Perhaps this could be a golden opportunity. Which why he thought he had to make most of it, even if he had to resort to clinging to the interviewer’s pant legs.

‘Have I gone crazy? Whose idea was it to come to this place? Having applied with a fabricated diploma was the least of my problems… At this rate who knows what kind of random things will appear on the news? No, surely Global Exos being a large enterprise, will be liable for having caused an incident of forged documents, with one of their applicants, will cause quite a stir and won’t be profitable to them… Oh, but wouldn’t turning back right now be equally insane crazy?’

He casually imagined the scene of himself being handcuffed and bombarded with questions from reporters.

“Oh, will you be staying here?”

Suddenly, he heard a woman’s voice beside him.

Since he was already surprised, he lifted his head and saw the receptionist whom he met in the hallway standing there in a formal suit.

“This seat is empty. Would you like to sit here?”

She nodded and sat down next to him.

“I’m sorry for laughing earlier. Did I offend you?”

“It’s alright. It must’ve been hard not to laugh. I look really funny, don’t I?”

“Yes?”

After seeing the strange glance the receptionist gave as a response to his question, he made a puzzled face.

“Ah……It looks like there’s a misunderstanding. I wasn’t laughing because of your clothes. There really isn’t anybody who bows who would deeply to a receptionist. I was laughing because I thought you were a slightly eccentric person. Also, your clothes suit you quite nicely”

Hyun Woo’s face became red. Could this mean he had an inferiority complex?

“I’m sorry for misunderstanding”
“No I’m sorry for causing the misunderstanding.”
“By the way, why are you here?”

“To be honest, I’ve also submitted an application. My name is Kang Misu”

“Oh, My name is Kim Hyun Woo.”

Kang Misu extended her hand. Meanwhile, Hyun Woo wiped his hands on his pants and was about to shake her hand…

“All the candidates please head over to the auditorium.”

‘Damn. Whatever. I’ll probably die or faint anyway. Wait, I wouldn’t die from this, would I?’

Unable to break away from crowd, Hyun Woo was swept away into the auditorium.

* * *

Approximately 2000 people were packed tightly inside the auditorium.

Since only about 10 people would be chosen, The ratio of being chosen was 1 to 200. Everyone’s attention was on the stage where a man in his late 20’s stood.

“Nice to meet you, everyone. I am the Planning Director, Ha Myung Woo. On behalf of Global Exos I would like to thank all of you for gathering here today.”

His speech was follow by loud applause.

Ha Myung Woo nodded gently and said.

“Then let’s go straight to point of what everybody has been wondering about. Those of you here who are aware of Global Exos’ announcement last month regarding a new virtual reality game called New World, could please raise your hand?”

Most of the people raised their hands. However, Hyun Woo didn’t raise his.

Virtual reality games were not available for regular computers.

If one wanted to play it, they had to buy a commercial network unit, which cost a considerable amount of money.

Although there was also virtual reality gaming centers.

Because the cost of a unit is expensive, the charged a high service fee.

Ha Myung Woo nodded his head.

“I see most of you have heard of it. However, because limited information was released, we will explain it briefly. Global Exos created the world’s first ever Virtual Reality game which changed the gaming industry. Soon after, one after another, gaming companies have started to make virtual reality games, and eventually led to the popularity of Virtual Reality. But the game we announced to be released is original and a whole new innovation.”

Some people who had experience with those games nodded their heads.

During the following discussion, Hyun Woo’s mouth was wide open in awe.

Up until now, virtual reality games have amounted to a visual image has been implanted directly into the retinas in order to perceive the virtual world.

The game New World was going to be different than any other games. Information received from the retina will be directly delivered to the brain, which allows the game to be perceived as a real-world experience.

Thanks to that, it’s no longer just seeing, but experiencing another world with all five senses.

For the last 3 years, Hyun Woo lived without playing games, and the advancement in technology was amazement to him.

“It’s true the expense will reach four times as much as an existing unit. However, New World is not a simple game. We are heading towards a new age. I am confident we will be able to create a new culture and will last 10 to 20 years into the future. The recruitment test this time was to pick a capable people who will be managing New World, as well as making history.”

“What are the requirements to pass the screening?”

Right then, someone asked.

“Everyone is probable wondering about the passing requirements. Among those of you who are present, you might identify yourself as inexperienced or uneducated, but as of this moment, I want everyone to forget about those labels. We have decided not to take those matters into account. New World is a project that will last for dozens of years, and we are recruiting people based on their talented to be able to manage a long-term project. In simpler terms, we will be judging based on your passion for this game as well as the possibility of future growth.”

Physicist, Chemist, Astronomers, medical experts, and even experts in Nanoscience. Dozens of experts will spend years studying the virtual reality game, The New World.

However, Global Exos was not looking for an employee with knowledge in those subjects. But rather, an employee who knew how to start a fire. Global Exos was looking for one who could manipulate the fire, was what Ha Myung Woo explained.

“How will you determine those who are qualified?”

“The method we’ll be using is quite simple.”

Ha Myung Woo parted his lips slightly and replied.

“Tomorrow afternoon, everyone will receive access to their own gaming unit with New World installed on it. With this unit, you are to create a new account for New World. Inside the game, if you accomplish a particular condition, a event will occur and you can think of as a formal certificate of employment. Furthermore, while the test is in progress, Global Exos will be paying you a minimum of 1.5 million Won every month. This is the company’s policy is to ensure everyone will be able to completely concentrate on the game and play with similar conditions.”

It was an unprecedented way obtaining employment caused a disturbance in the auditorium.

As the unrest settled down and questions started to be asked.

“What conditions must be achieved?”
“Are you talking about a quest?”
“Or is it about obtaining some rare items?”

“I’ve predicted you would have a lot of questions. However, I can’t tell you specific information. What I can tell you is there are many ways you can achieve your goal, and also, there is no set path towards the goal.”

“Are you saying the goal of this test is to obtain something inside the game?”

“You are correct. However, we will not give you any clues. Isn’t that the most fun part of a game?”

Ha Myung Woo said in joyful voice. However, there was no one who shared his happiness.

“You have freedom to do what you wish inside the game. Although you are given your freedom, it is your responsibility to follow the rules. It is also up to you to choose your own goals. Depending on your situation, you will be judged as we see fit.”

“How long will the testing period be?”
“How many people will you be recruiting?”
“We will be recruiting only 10 people.”
“The testing period will end when we have chosen 10 people.”

Ha Myung Woo added with a smile.

“Perhaps this might be the longest testing period of employee recruitment in history. However, the game New World is worth investing your time and effort in. Without a doubt.”

“I hope this would motivate people to combine their strength and work together. Fighting~”

Kang Misu said with a beautiful smile as she came out to talk to the people in the auditorium.

There was definitely nothing he looked forward to more than working with this beauty in an office of the large conglomerate.

* * *

Hyun Woo stood idly at the convenience store counter eyeing a Global Exos’ brochure.

He knew it was one of the world’s largest corporations but he did not expect it to be at this level.

On the pamphlet were the written details of the employees who passed the special test.

It was rumored New World’s exclusive Planning Department receives an assigned annual salary of approximately 100 million won.

Considering the starting salary of a large enterprise was 40 million, this was exceptional.

In addition, there was a full page article of the company’s guaranteed benefits.

‘It seems like only 2000 people were qualified. If they give everyone 1.5 million won, that’s 30 billion a month! Even if the test runs for only three to four months, they will be spending over 100 billion! Since they’re spending so much money on just the recruitment exam…’

Literally a dream Job!

It was a job that could resolve all of Hyun Woo’s problems in one go.

More than anything, Hyun Woo was captivated by the unique recruitment test.

They didn’t want a close to perfect score on the TOEIC evaluation, nor did they want someone with an amazing work experience.

If they were looking for those kinds of things, he would not have applied for the job.

However, they proposed a method of achieving something inside the game as a test to get employed. Therefore, the only condition was to be good at games.

‘Did they really not investigate my education?’

If the falsification of his educational background were to come out of the light, it might become a big issue.

No, it might not even get detected. As he thought about it, his hope swelled up.

‘This way, there might be some hope for me.’

Since his younger years, Hyun Woo had always loved to play games.

Although he spent a lot of time playing amazing games, they weren’t memorable.

Furthermore once he had completed the game, all items obtained could be sold for money.

Even so, he didn’t think getting employed would be easy.

Ratio of 200 to 1. The other candidates would also rush forward with their lives on the line.

However, since they are all starting with same conditions, he was confident he wouldn’t become left behind.

‘It’s a once in a lifetime chance. I can’t miss this!’

That same day, Hyun Woo quit his part-time job at the convenience store, and stopped his milk and newspaper deliveries.

However, because of the cost of living, and hospital bills, he cannot overindulge himself by quitting two of his other part time jobs.

With the 1.5 million won Global Exos promised as a salary, he still could not even afford the hospital bills.

He did not blindly believe his debt was resolved by itself. He understood tomorrow his debt would still increase.

Therefore, he needed a little more like to save up.

‘Since I have less time than the others, I have to do this as if it was life-and-death situation.’

As soon as he finished work, he immediately headed for home.

‘I should try looking for information about the game…’

However, Hyun Woo started to shake his head.

‘It’s just information. Experiencing it first-hand will allow me to understand the game faster.’

Hyun Woo immediately went to the unit. After he turned on the power, he heard a low whirring sound and suddenly, everything went dark.

Suddenly, a piercing light, along with a new world, unfolded before him.

– New World Begins.

Back to top

Chapter 1 : New World

This chapter is brought to you by AnmesicCat, Baddiez, BDark, Hikaru, Lastear, and Masadeer.


– Starting initial operations. Scanning for necessary personal data.
Unregistered user detected. Please register a new account.

Someone spoke from within a space enclosed in light.

Following the guide, as soon as he gave his personal information, a red light scanned his body.

Soon after, a character dressed in leather bearing a similar appearance to Hyun-Woo appeared in front of him.

– The state of the appearance shown is scanned from the user. If you wish, you may change your appearance, sex, or race. However be warned, each account is limited to one character. Once the character has been created, you may not alter or delete your character. Please think carefully before deciding.

A limit of one character per account. This was not a rare restriction for a virtual reality game.

Being able to change character appearance in game lessens the sense of physical immersion.

Having always worn glasses he thought his face looked a little strange.

Hyun-Woo contemplated and then adjusted his face structure a little.

He chose the Human race. This was typically a very average choice in most games.

Since he had not selected a profession and did not choose any skills, he would become a human aptitude for all professions.

– Please select your character’s name.

“Ark.”

It was the name that came to him when he received his unit.

He was using it in a biblical sense. Not because the cocoon round-like appearance reminded him of the Ark, but rather the fact Hyun-Woo’s future depended on this Unit. Even if it was tedious, there was no helping it.

– Users of the Human race may choose from four starting locations. Harun, the frontier town of Schudenberg Kingdom, Bristania Kingdom’s Changing Lot, and the small Kutran Castle in the Principality of Sinius. No matter which place you select, all the choices were similar. The townspeople are kind to strangers…

“Schudenberg Kingdom’s frontier town, Harun.”

Schudenberg Kingdom was the closest to the middle of the continent.

– If you would like a more detailed explanation about the New World…

“Skip.”

All game have similar introduction such as this.

In the beginning stages actual knowledge about the game doesn’t help much.

Above all, experience was the best type of knowledge. After canceling the tutorial, Hyun-Woo was enveloped in a bright light.

At the same time his characters eyes moved and he was absorbed within it.

The novice adventurer, Ark was born.

* * *

“What the heck?”

Ark had a bewildered look on his face.

He was surrounded by mountains and mountain villages.

In the village there were around 100 houses surrounded by high barriers.

This must be the beginning town Harun.

However Ark still could not believe his eyes.

‘Is this really part of a game?’

He could not believe it. The surrounding mountains. The fences and buildings, even the people who were wandering around…

This was completely different from Computer Graphics. It wasn’t something you can see visually.

He could feel his leather shoes, the wind whooshing by his ears, and even smell food being prepared somewhere from a distance.

It felt like reality, but wasn’t reality which made the situation all the more difficult to believe.

‘I know this is a virtual reality, but I can’t believe it’s a game.’

The virtual reality gaming experience used to be solely based on retina graphics.

This was as of 3 years ago. To this day most virtual reality games had still not escaped the dimension of having retina graphic based game.

‘Now I understand why Director Ha Myung Woo spoke with prideful words.’

Just one month ago Global Exos had announced New World, which resulted in it becoming the hot topic of gossip in many other games. Now he understood why this was happening.

If his situation had been more favourable, he would have stopped at nothing to play this game.

The technology developed by Global Exos was incredible.

‘Ah, now is not the time to be doing this.’

Ark, who had his mouth wide open, wiped his drool.

Several people around him look at him with dull look on their faces.

They were going through the same process of adaptation as Ark.

Blushing from embarrassment Ark moved to a more adequate place.

‘Where should I head off now?’

Ark saw the way other people moved their bodies and copied them.

Although he was actually connected to the unit lying down. He felt like he was actually moving.

Although moving little parts of his body was rough, it process was similar to moving in real life.

‘Ok, movements don’t seem to require any special procedures’

Ark then investigated the system window.

“Menu.”

A translucent circle appeared in front of him listed various items. Character info, bags, community, et cetera, you could either talk directly to the menu or tap the icon. Ark pressed the icon which looked like a face.

Character Name

Ark

Race

Human

Affiliation

None

Profession

None

Level

1

Fame

0

Title

None

Health

100

Mana

100

Strength

15

Agilitiy

15

Stamina

15

Intelligence

15

Wisdom

15

Luck

15

The pair of Character Information Windows that appeared were not simplistic in design. Afterwards he confirmed his skill window was completely empty. The contents of his bag were; 10 units of water, 10 pieces of wheat bread, and a dagger.

He was excited, and felt as if a new life was just beginning.

‘Well, what should I do now.’

Ark closed the information window and looked around.

Everything was so much like reality it was hard to distinguish NPCs from normal users

But both users and NPCs showed no interest in Ark since he began.

Everyone was running around like crazy.

In most games, there would be a kind NPC who would teach you when you first start out.

Looking around for a bit, he spotted an old man who kept his eyes on him from a distance.

Ark walked over to him.

“Ex….. Excuse me.”
“You must be new here.”

Without having to say anything, the old man spoke as if he understood the entire situation.

“What is your name?”
“My name is Ark.”

“My name is Hansen. I’m just an old guy whose purpose in life is to teach young guys, such as yourself, how to live in this place. As expected, you probably want to ask about what to do in this place?”

“Yes.”

“Most people who are like you commonly work one of two jobs here. One is wild dog and wolf hunting outside of this village, and another one finding work in the village. If you’re just playing casually, it’s better to choose the latter option. Since this is a backwater village, we’re always short-handed.”

“Yes, I like to be provided a job.”

Ark replied without hesitation.

However, the greatest danger in a game is not learning how to hunt carefully and embarking without reason or under bad influence.

Therefore doing a simple quest would be good idea to adapt to the game.

Early beginnings of a game consisted of mostly of doing quests to adapt to the flow of the game and earn equipment. Hence, was more profitable than aimlessly hunting.

“I’m thankful you took time to listen to me. As it so happens, there’s a job I’d like to entrust to you. Recently I’ve heard the tavern owner was complaining about the amount of mice in his cellar. I think you would be able to solve the problem. How about it? Will you help?”

Du-du-dung. An information window came up along with a strange sound.

Kraydon, who owns the tavern in the gloomy backwater village of Harun, has gotten headaches over the growing mouse problem in recent years.Meet Kraydon, listen to his problem, and then deal with it. It’s a job that should be easy even for a beginner.Difficulty: Not Applicable

Ark accepted the quest and headed towards the tavern.

Finding the tavern was quite easy. It was the only building overflowing with customers, in the town square.

As he entered the tavern a messy haired boy wearing an apron could be heard yelling.

“You came with a recommendation from the Old Man Hansen?”

With a relieved look on his face, Ark began to speak to Kraydon.

“Nice to meet you. Can you do me a little favour and kill the mice inside the warehouse down the street. Lately, I think if I hear them one more time, I’ll lose my mind!”

“Yes. I will do it. But what will the compensation be?”

Ark indirectly asked. Whether in it is reality or inside a game, no one believed in working free of charge.

Work should be compensated. It’s only natural right?

Kraydon started beating on his chest and replied.

“Of course, I, Kraydon, am not of the cheap nature to swindle a stranger who has no home or belongings after he has eaten his fill. I have prepared a reward essential for someone like you.”

“I look forward to it.”

Ark entered the warehouse with a daring smile.

The warehouse had been congested with many swarms of mice.

Both sides officially recognized the other as an easy target as they faced one another.

‘My first test subjects will be you guys! Now, shall we begin?’

Ark drew his dagger, charged and swung his dagger, and attacked one of the mice.

However, he got a result he did not expect. Embarrassingly, the mouse lightly sidestepped the moving dagger. Also, as if mocking his sloppy display of skill, they ran between the boxes, knocking them over.

Similar occurrence kept repeating. Ark was growing angry at the loitering mice who light dodged as often as he swung his dagger at them.

‘Huh? There’s no way this should be happening?’

How could he be unable to even kill one mouse? Ark grew puzzled.

In all of the games he’s played until now, mice were mobs who died out even if they saw a sword. However, these mice were different.

As if they were actual copies, the mice moved as they would in reality. Their speed was no joke.

While he was flustered, a bright light suddenly flashed in his eyes.

– You have been attacked by a Mouse.You have received 1 damage.

Far from killing them, he was hurt instead.

Just because it was only 1 damage, it did not mean he could ignore it. The mice, seeing Ark getting flustered, seemed to judge him as an easy opponent. In an instant, enough had gathered to block the view of the ground and started biting him. In the blink of an eye, his health had dropped down to 20.

Ark, who became frightened, quickly backed away.

‘These little… If I’m not careful, I might die from being attacked by mice.’

Nobody, in the entire world, gets bitten by mice and then dies from it.

Ark calmed his emotions. He could not afford to get hit anymore.

Ark carefully marked the assaulting mouse, and struck the moment they ran forward to bite him.

The mouse screeched with pain and split into two halves.

– You have killed a Mouse. You have earned 1 EXP.

At last, he heard the welcoming sound accompanied a message window popped up.

When Ark started to properly counterattack, the mice were eliminated at lightning speed.

Meanwhile, Ark killed several more mice. He also drove them back to their holes one by one as he swung his dagger. The mice did not take it lying down.

Several of them began to cooperate with one another, and started to leap at him after hiding in boxes and counterattacked. The fierce fighting between the human and the mice lasted 30 minutes.

At the end of the battle, he only had 3 loaves of wheat bread left. In order to recover his lowered health, he had consumed 7 loaves. The durability of his 2 attack point dagger and his 2 defence point leather armour also dropped significantly. It was an empty victory.

‘Phew, whatever happened, I killed them all. While it was difficult, my experience should’ve risen substantially, right?’

Ark opened up his character window in order to inspect the good results and promptly had an unhappy expression.

One mouse gave 1 EXP. However, even though he killed over 30, he only received 30 EXP.

He thought because he was just starting out, it was not a small amount.

However, after looking at his experience bar, it had not even risen one percent.

No matter the extreme difficulty in fighting them, mice were mice.

His disappointment was unrivalled. However, Ark reined in his emotions.

Because no matter what, a quest was still a quest, there would still be some reward later.

“All the mice have been wiped out.”
“Oh, yes? Very good. I have a little something for you.”

Kraydon laughed broadly as he took out 10 wheat bread.

“…”

Ark who had been eagerly looking forward to his reward, stare at Kraydon in horror.

There could be no way he would spend more than 30 minutes in a life or death struggle, all he would receive was some wheat bread.

However, Kraydon, if anything, looked blankly at Ark as if there was something wrong with him.

“No way, is there some kind of mistake?”
“What do you mean? Isn’t it most important you are still alive?”

“But…….”
“You expect to receive better rewards for killing some mice?”

Ark had fevertion so he kept his mouth shut suffering in silence.

He spent 30 minutes and cleaned up 7 loaves of wheat bread to hunt the mice.

His dagger and his leather armour were in disrepair. And the reward was a mere 10 loaves of wheat bread? Was it a joke? But what use was there in arguing with an NPC for an opponent?

Furthermore, wheat bread was cheap but inconvenient.

However, Ark accepted and took the 10 pieces of bread and left the tavern.

He returned to Hansen with a dissatisfied expression and asked him.

“Aren’t there any more decent jobs?”

“Hehe, this guy. You’re being too greedy from the very start. You’re a newcomer to this place. Who would entrust an important task to a newcomer? If you want a job with large rewards, you need to build more trust.”

‘It appears the game is affected by the level of intimacy’

Many games before virtual reality games emphasised on relationship between NPCs.

It was a feature of the game that one’s intimacy with an NPC determined which quests, information, and skills you would be exposed to.

This kind of system played the role of an imaginary space where one could experience significance of reality.

Therefore there was no way a high-tech company like New World would not implement a system such as this.

‘In other words, newbies had to grind the low-reward quests in order to get better rewards.’

Ark was about to ask another question after understanding the basic concept.

Someone struck up a conversation from behind him.

“Are you a newbie?”

He turned around and saw a cute girl coming closer.

“Yes, that’s right.”
“Are you trying to get a quest from the elder by any chance?”

Ark nodded his head as a smirk rose on her face.

However, as soon as Ark made an unpleasant expression, she quickly smiled.

“Oh, sorry. However, trying to get a quest from the elder isn’t exactly the best idea.”

“Why?”

“The quests this elder provides are all low-reward and low-experience. Although I did a few of his quests just in case, he kept giving me similar quests. There are people who have also tried over fifty times. However, the only things they’ve received in increase were the repair costs.”

“Then what should I be doing in the beginning?”

“The best thing to do is to hunt Wild Dogs in the outskirts of the village. While the normal thing is hunt rabbits or raccoons at level 1, the EXP you receive is only a little bit higher than mice… The reason why there is hardly anyone in the village is because everyone is out hunting wild dogs.”

“Wild dogs?”

Ark bore an anxious expression as he repeated the question.

Just killing a few mice was an arduous task. Would not hunting wild dogs be more difficult?

However, the girl opened her mouth as if she had read his mind.

“It’s hard to kill them alone. That’s why everyone forms a party to hunt them. As it so happens, a person whom I was hunting with and I, were having a bit of trouble, so would you like to hunt with us?”

“Yeah? Are you sure it’s alright? I’m only at level 1?”

“It’s okay. I also started today, so I’ve only reached level 2. And the other person is level 3.”

“Yes, then please let me join.”
“Please follow me. The other member is outside.”

Her party mate was a large man who was eating wheat bread at the village gates.

It was a rare sight for someone in the starting village to be equipped with a longsword.

As she introduced herself, Ark quickly examined her from top to bottom and nodded his head.

“Well, at least a level three would be better than a level one and two.”

The man was Andel, and the woman was called Bulma.

Both Andel and Bulma were also beginning New World but were more well-informed than Ark.

Although he started around the same time as Ark, he was able to level up by forming a party and hunting wild dogs.

“Well then, we have no time to be playing around”

As they walked a bit, they came across a field where Wild Dogs were meandering in.

Bulma said in a nervous tone.

“You can’t stop being vigilant everyday just because it’s close to the village. They’re stronger than they appear, so you have to kill them by luring them one at a time.”

As Andel silently drew closer to a Wild Dog, he hit it and escaped behind it. He was far enough so other Wild Dogs would not jump in, and swung his long sword.

The wild dog howled in pain as it took the piercing attack.

Meanwhile, Ark and Bulma sprang at it. However, the battle was not as simple as they thought. Their fear clouded their judgement.

While one may say what kind of fear is there in a game, the Wild Dog, which was exquisitely detailed down to each individual hair, appeared no different from reality.

In reality, he had never even fought a cat before. He had not even imagined fighting a Wild Dog, let alone actually fights one. Seeing those Wild Dogs bare their teeth at him chilled him down to his bones. Their movements were also alarming. They were so fast Ark, who was wielding a dagger, could not hit them even once.

“Jeez, Ark. What are you doing?”
“Uhm uhm, thi-this…”

Ark suffered a bite to his thigh as a result of the Wild Dog’s attack.

Immediately, he lost 30 HP. As he became frightened and started retreating, Andel and Bulma struck the Wild Dog from behind, barely managing to kill it. When the Wild dog fell, it dropped leather and meat.

Andel naturally picked up everything then looked disapprovingly at Ark.

“Is this your first time playing a Virtual Reality game?”
“Not really…”

It was his first time playing the real thing.

Andel glared at Bulma with eyes full of reproach.

Why did you bring back a guy like this?

Bulma looked at Ark with a resentful expression.

Ark’s face became flushed as he suddenly became marked as a dead man.

It was not always good to have a game be able to express every single expression.

They had killed more Wild Dogs, but the results always turned out the same.

“Ark, I can’t attack if you suddenly come to my side!”
“Oh, are you really going to stab me?”

“You want me to retreat back there? How am I supposed to attack?”
“Ah, but you’re terrible.”

Andel had an annoyed expression as he complained.

Ark got flustered and was chased by the wild dogs, and as a result, Andel and Bulma killed everything.

Since he wasn’t even able to properly stab anything with his dagger, he did not receive any experience. Even the leather and meat that dropped were monopolized by Andel, of course. While Bulma did not say anything, Ark, who was only causing trouble, could not even complain.

No, it was not an issue of complaining.

“Please take a moment to look at what we’re doing from behind us.”

‘Damn, won’t I get kicked at this rate?’

Ark grew restless at Andel’s brusque tone.

There are only 4 loaves left. His equipment was frayed as if it would fall apart at any moment.

No party would pick up a player who got kicked out with Ark’s appearance.

His days of desperately fighting mice for 10 loaves of wheat bread and 1 EXP would continue.

Furthermore, connections were important in games.

If any person played a game, then they understand how important it is to have even one more person on their side.

‘Fine. This time, I want to get a hit in and die with no regrets.’

Ark had a firm resolve.

Suddenly, another Wild Dog lured by Andel had arrived.

Ark did not listen to Andel’s advice at all, and, after taking the vanguard, swung at a Wild Dog with his dagger. As he fought it as if his life depended on it, the dog flattered and shrank back.

For the first time, Ark was able to hit the wild dog with his dagger.

At the same time, the wild dog’s attack struck Ark.

– You have received a fatal blow from a Wild Dog.You have taken 50 damage.

Ark felt a dizzy sensation and staggered around before collapsing on his back.

“Not that way!”

Bulma shouted not because she was worried about Ark but because she was surprised. The Wild Dogs took a step forward towards where Ark had collapsed and began to gather.

Bulma and Andel’s faces were white with terror. Even with their level, the Wild Dogs were an overwhelming opponent. Even more so when there was 5 of them!

“Damn, it’s all over.”
“That’s why you should stay at the back!”

Ark overflowing with dissatisfaction.

‘Damn, how about I quit the party.’

Ark clenched his fists tightly until they bit into his hands and got up.

“I’ll block them while you run away.”
“Yes? Ha, but then…”

Bulma was baffled as Andel pulled on her with a jerk.

Without looking back, Ark drew out his dagger and swung it in random directions.

Two of the Wild Dog who gathered around Ark, chased him. Simultaneously, he saw flashing red lights coming from all directions. When he heard three or four system messages saying he has received some damages, the vision from both his eyes started to turn dark. Not long after, Ark collapsed and the Wild Dogs retreated to their original position.

His very first death.

* * *

As he opened his eyes he saw some supplies near the castle gate.

– You have suffered critical injuries.Fortunately, you were saved quickly and received treatment at the Quartermaster’s Station.Life will recover. However, due to the risky operation a penalty will be imposed.

Please confirm the details in the character information window.

“Are you alright?”

The system messages overlapped with Bulma’s voice.

Ark was embarrassed and started scratching his head.

“Oh, I’m sorry. Did you almost die because of me?”
“No, it was thanks to you I’m alive. But Ark…….”
“It’s no problem. After all, I didn’t even have 1% experience.”

Ark had never thought of his death was of any importance.

It was common sense in the case of death in a game, experience would be reduced. In some cases, lose their items. This was the reason why people struggled to not be killed.

However Ark was different. He did not care to lose experience since he had just started.

Neither did he drop any of his items. The only players who did not fear death were level 1 players.

Therefore Ark tilted his head since he was unable to understand Bulma’s reaction.

“Yes? What experience? I’m just saying…”

Andel, as if became aware of something, suddenly blocked Bulma’s path.

“Ah yes, I hadn’t thought Ark-nim had just recently started the game.”

Andel’s eyes sparkled as he proposed an idea.

“Then how about we do this? Let’s hunt something a little stronger than Wild Dogs, something like Wolves. If it’s Wolves, I’m sure we’ll be able to take them down. I’ve heard there were some cases where a party was killing a Wolf and various other Wolves would come and gather around them making it almost impossible to hunt. But if Ark-nim were to tank them for us and die in our place, Wolves are worth challenging. Although Ark-nim will not receive any experience, we’ll divide any items dropped from killing Wolves. The beginners’ items they drop can be sold for a considerable amount of money.”

“But Andel-nim.”

Bulma looked at Andel with a surprised expression. Her eyes told him he asked for too much.

Nevertheless Ark nodded his head without a second thought.

“If you’re sure, why not.”

He thought Andel’s proposition wasn’t a bad one.

Even if he refused and left the party, there was nothing else he could do.

It would be more useful if he was able to face a superior Wolf and adapt.

He currently did not stand a chance; death was inevitable.

For a good reason, he also wouldn’t be distributed any items nor receive any loot unless Wolves appeared.

“It’s beneficial to have Ark-nim.”

Andel lead the party to the fields in high spirits.

Andel’s attitude towards Ark did a complete 180. In order to repair his equipment, he would have to pay 30 copper. And whenever situations get dangerous, he was grateful for reducing the chances of death. After the party finished their item repairs, they walked passed the pack of Wild Dogs towards the place where Wolves gather.

* * *

Wolves, undoubtedly are several times stronger than stray dogs. It was an opponent you can barely win against yourself.

Aooo!

As several Wolves were caught and on death’s door, they howled towards the sky.

There is a reason for this. The distant Wolves would surge in to the support of their comrades.

On all occasions it was the level 1, Ark, who bravely intercepted them.

“These bastards. All of you come at me!”

Naturally they would frantically claw and bite as they lay down on the floor.

But Ark refused to bat an eye.

‘Huhuhu. Slaughtering as I please. After all I am a pitiful creature with nothing to lose.’

Ark arose up like a zombie once more from the Quartermaster’s Station and set out to hunt Wolves once more.

After he died about ten times, an information window popped up along with a sound effects and shining lights.

– You have learned a new skill.Indomitable Will (Beginner, Passive):You have undergone countless lives and deaths; your mind is uncrushable and abundant with courage.

While under critical conditions, piercing the enemy’s weak point will break their concentration and allows you to heal faster than others.

During times of crisis:
+30% Critical Rate.
+5% Recovery Rate.

‘Aha, is this a gift from the heavens?’

Would this lead to destitute? Though he had died several times, he never imagined of receiving a new skill.

The quicker Ark separated the pack of Wolves, the fasted they died.

The people who watched Ark hunted started making comments.

“Wahhh. That person never seem to get tired.”
“It’s a brave warrior. A soldier. A level 1 veteran.”
“Is he out of his mind? Maybe doesn’t know how to play this game?”

Sarcasm could be heard one time or another, and sometimes a voice of concern.

‘Hmph. Those people do not know anything…’

However, Ark did not mind their words. Ark opened his bag and took a peek. Inside were filled with Wolf leather and meat. Seeing this reassured his mind.

At level 1, he was adapting to Wild Dogs and Wolves while obtaining item drops from them. What problems can there be? Despite Andel and Bulma’s higher level, Ark was not at a disadvantage.

In others perspective, Ark might certainly seemed he was recklessly hunting, however, Ark was also gaining a lot of information.

Andel and Bulma had never experienced playing a virtual reality game like this.

The two current level 3 players originally thought Wolves were overwhelming opponents.

However, the two players were expertly dealing critical blows. Following Ark’s lead, they did not hesitate to swing their weapons and attack. Thanks to the level 1 player, they were able to hunt Wolves continuously for about two hours.

‘Huh, what’s going on?’

Ark had experienced something strange.

Somehow, he started moving slower and slower over time, and felt out of breath. Although he wield his dagger, he lacked strength.

It was as if he had several lead weights on his arms and legs.

Bulma, who noticed Ark’s movement slowing down over time down, had a sorry expression on her face.

However, Andel who was still at a distance, said.

“Perhaps he is unable to continue since he is not familiar with virtual reality games. We should call it a day. Hunting grounds are dangerous when a party member is unable to move.”

“Yes, I guessed so.”
“It was all thanks to you, hunting was easier. I will see you later.”
“Can I… Register you as a friend?”
“We’ll call you next time.”

In the end, Andel had left before he could say anything else.

Bulma hesitantly approached him, took out a sword from her bag, and held it out to him.

“Take this. It’s not a bad weapon to use, especially at the start of the game.”

“Ah. Thank you.”

Ark received the weapon and checked the information window.

Rusty Iron Sword

Weapon Type

One-Handed Sword

Attack Damage

5~8

Durability

30/30

Weight

15

Restriction

None

This weapon has low durability and the rust made its damage weak.
Relying on this sword to fight in a battlefield will lead to death.

Ark was currently using a dagger with a damage of 1~3. Although it was an unnamed, lousy-beyond-compare, level 1 dagger, Ark was thankful for it. In addition, his bag was full to bursting with wolf leather and meat. On top of that, he had become more proficient with his skills. While his level stayed the same, his progress for the first day was pretty good. However, Bulma had a rather sorry expression on her face.

“I’m sorry. Even though you suffered so much, I don’t have anything I can give you, except this”

“No, I’m truly grateful.”

There was definitely nothing wrong with looking good in front of other users.

If anything, it was good to slightly flatter users who were at a higher level than you. There was no other way to get an item at such a bargain otherwise. With those joyful feelings in his heart, Ark finished the first day of gaming.

Back to top

Chapter 2 : Mouse Hunter

This chapter is brought to you by AnmesicCat, Baddiez, Hikaru, Junny, Lastear, and Lei.


“Whew, it’s a lot easier now that I’ve actually tried it.”

Hyun Woo let out a sigh of relief as he got out of the unit.

Once again, technological advances were to be admired. The scenery, the people, and monsters in the game looked very realistic. The battles were overflowing with a sense of realism.

Although he had started playing the game for the sake of the recruitment test, he thought he might get deeply immersed and beyond. However, Hyun Woo could not afford to get blindly obsessed with the game.

The game was great, but for him, it was more important to get by. He was in a different situation compared to the other applicants. It was a given he wouldn’t be able to feed himself and pay for his mother’s hospital fees if he didn’t work. He couldn’t just give up everything and enter this 1 in 200 war with his life on the line.

‘However, the game is just as important. I can’t quit work, but, I can put the private academy on hold for the moment. Then, I suppose I can play more if I sleep less.’

The clock indicated it was already 2 in the morning.

The Hyun Woo who skipped lunch in order to set up the unit, fetched himself a carton of milk and sat in front of the computer.

He had underestimated New World.

After he had actually tried the game, he realised it was quite different from any other games. As a result, he felt the need to look up more information during his spare time.

Sure enough, within a span of a month, the game was the top topic that came up and dozens of related sites had formed.

There were sites that shared information with users; while the information was insufficient, it was good to thoroughly look over them just in case.

Hyun Woo went onto the sites and looked through the information.

However, information could only be understood if one had some background knowledge. Since he didn’t know much, they were all Greek to him. At that moment, after clicking through the forums without much thought, the milk carton fell from Hyun Woo’s hand.

“W-What’s this?”

Hyun Woo moved his face right up to the monitor and read through the forum.

‘Whoa, n-no way… Is this for real?’

Hyun Woo forgot about his fatigue and immediately entered the unit.

* * *

Ark entered Harun together with a hazy light.

“Stat Window.”

When Ark hastily looked at the opened Stat Window, all colour drained from his face.

“My god! I-I was done in!”

Character Name

Ark

Race

Human

Fame

0

Level

1

Profession

None

Title

None

Health

100

Mana

100

Strength

1 (-14)

Agilitiy

1 (-14)

Stamina

1 (-14)

Wisdom

1 (-14)

Intelligence

1 (-14)

Luck

1 (-14)

All the stats turned red and had dropped down to 1.

The information Ark saw online turned out to be true.

On the forum, there was a tale of a newbie user who died without knowing much. According to it, his stats was deducted by 1 each time he died. And like Ark, he didn’t check the deducted stat and leveled up; permanently losing the stats in process. The figures inside the bracket indicated the deducted stat, and if one leveled up without recovering them, those stats could never be returned.

Ark was able to understand everything that had happened until now.

‘So this was why the people around me showed extreme reactions.’

They must have thought of me as someone who had given up on the game since I kept going at it like a nutcase and everytime I died, my stats got hacked away.

Damn it, so that’s why Bulma said she was so sorry.

He felt like an erupting volcano about to explode.

Ark having experience playing many games, he knew firsthand the importance of stats.

Everytime you level up in New World you are given 10 points.

This means at level 10 you should have 100 points. However Ark had already lost 84. In other words, this means at level 10 he would essentially be lower than a level 2. This was a huge difference.

No, the bad side aside, he wouldn’t be able to do anything at this rate.

Before logging off, Ark was panting while holding a dagger, but he wasn’t tired. He had 1 strength so the dagger was heavy, and also one agility, so his movement were sluggish.

‘From the beginning that bastard Andel knew all about it. Bulma knew too. They took advantage of me in order to hunt safely. All this for a handful of crappy items.’

For 84 stat points, he got a bunch of wolf leather, meat, and a rusty sword.

Ark clenched and grinded his teeth while searching for them. However, they must’ve fled the village, or cut off all means of communication as he wasn’t able to find them anywhere. Then again, there wasn’t anything that he could do even if he caught them.

With these stats, he could not exact revenge, and they could not return his lost stats anyway. In the end, Ark sank down to the ground with a hollow expression.

Everything in front of his eyes became dark.

‘Damn it, to think that such a system would exist.’

The stat couldn’t fall below 1, so he really had a body that had nothing to lose now.

His anger subsided a little and his guilt rose. No matter how hurried he’d felt, he should have looked through the information first. Even 1 hour, no, 30 minutes of skimming through a forum would have prevented such a mistake. It was his fault for thinking that this game would be no different from other games.

Ark realized how much of a difference one small piece of information could make. No, but before that, the disappointment on himself surfaced.

‘What a stupid bastard I was! Why didn’t I notice the reason Bulma was being so kind? It may just be a game, but in the end those guys are only human. There’s no reason for them to be so nice to a useless guy like me!’

If this was reality, he definitely would never have made that mistake.

‘Andel and Bulma! You bastards picked on the wrong person. I’ll make you regret it someday!’

Life is unfair beyond imagination. Survival would be impossible if one underestimated it.

If there was one thing Ark had learned while working hard in real life, that would be it.

Sometimes, after working a part-time job for over a month, he didn’t receive his pay.

The manager had taken Ark for an easy mark because he was just a student. So Ark didn’t go to school for a week and clung to the manager until he finally got his money. He couldn’t give up because his life was on the line.

Ark had suffered similar situations for the past few years. He couldn’t fall apart here.
He had to get stronger somehow and get his revenge on those bastards! But for now there were more urgent matters.
One hour later, Ark went and found Hansen again.

“Give me a job.”

“Hmm? If it isn’t the customer who came in a while ago. Didn’t you say you were going outside to hunt?”

“I’m about to cry, okay? Don’t ask and please give me a job.”

Ark said as he let out a deep sigh.

He had spent an hour digging through the Internet after what had happened.

Perhaps because there were almost no idiots who had made the same mistake as Ark, there was barely any information. Still, Ark determinedly searched through the Internet.

He thought there might be a way to restore his stats if the system deduct stats with each death.

If it was impossible to restore the stats, then there’d be no reason to put the lost stat numbers in parentheses.

Thankfully, he’d was able to find information about that part a little while ago.

The way was rather simple. If you hunted a lot, the lost stats would be naturally restored. But there was also a problem here. If the lost stats were not completely restored and the user leveled up in that state, then those stats would be gone forever. Hence, he had to recover all of his 84 stat points before leveling up to level 2.

Mice naturally came to Ark’s mind.

Each mouse gave 1 EXP. However, leveling up by hunting mice alone would be an impossible feat. Since many mice had to be killed in order to level up, it might be possible for him to restore many stats.

‘Although I would much rather make a new character…’

In New World, only one character was allowed per account.

Sink or swim—he had to suck it up and continue playing with his current character.. Although he was already way behind the other applicants even at the start, there was no other way.

“Okay, there aren’t a lot of people who are willing to work in this village, so there’s plenty of work I can give you. Go right now to the smithy. The number of mice these days has increased there as well.”

Ark ran right to the smithy. Then, before the blacksmith could even open his mouth, he jumped into the cellar. The situation was no better than before. At least all of his stats had been at 15 before. Now they were at a measly 1. He’d be no better than a ninety year old grandpa holding a dagger. If his Health Points had been reduced too, he’d probably have gone mad.

‘It’s fine. Let’s not think about it anymore. It’s no use coming this far and regretting it. Like when I was up against wolves, the only way is to carefully take the mice on one by one…’

His attitude was different than before.

There was nowhere to run. If he couldn’t even kill a mouse, then he should give up on the game. Ark gave it everything that he had as he battled a single mouse. In other words, he had to give it his all to kill a single mouse. As a result, he had to investigate into a more efficient way to hunt.

While doing this, he realised he could perceive many points.

‘The speed and strength with which I can swing the dagger has definitely decreased. But the fighting experience I gained while hunting wild dogs and wolves is there to some degree. Even though it takes longer to hunt, it actually feels easier than before. That means…”

It meant combat wasn’t based on the attack and defense stats.

Similar to reality, by utilizing fighting experience, the situation could be changed at any time. It was difficult for a level one user to defeat a player who is level ten, but with a level 4 or 5, by following fighting experience, it was possible.

From then on, Ark observed the movements of the mice. He fought while learning how to move in each situation and when to hit the mouse to deal a little more damage. He went through similar battles such as this several times and grasp the techniques of the mice.

‘Okay, it’s not going to work if I just randomly swing the dagger. The mouse is using its head to move. So, I should learn its movements as if I’m facing a real mouse.’

Ark dealt with all of the mice in the smithy’s cellar.

Even so, there weren’t any changes to his stats yet.

“Even though I’ve killed thirty of them…. Is it truly possible to recover my lost stats like this?”

Although he had his worries, he had no other choice.

Even if he were to go outside the village, it would be difficult to deal with one rabbit. There was likely no one who would allow him to squeeze into a party.

If he wasn’t able to restore his stats with the mice, the game would end then and there.

‘I gotta believe they’ll be restored. They’ll be recovered for sure.’

Ark received his ten pieces of wheat bread from the smith and received another request. This time, it was a request about the mice in the cellar of the fancy goods shop. In an hour and a half, he was able to finish three requests.

– Thanks to a lot of experience, the Strength and Agility that was lost to a huge blow has been found again. Strength up by 1. Agility has been restored by 1.

The message that he longed for finally appeared. He felt happiness, but at the same time, he felt at a loss as to what he should do.

An hour and a half. He was only able to recover 2 points after an hour and a half of nonstop mice hunting. How many mice did he have to kill to recover the remaining 82 points?

‘But I’ll get them back no matter what it takes. I can’t just start like this, with these stupid penalties.’

Ark clenched his teeth.

* * *

Hyun Woo rubbed his bloodshot eyes and headed to work.

He had been able to regain only 6 points from staying up the entire night.

While he was lucky there was a way to restore his stats, thinking about the remaining 78 points he started to feel faint.

‘Should I just give up on my stats and raise my level instead?’

It would cross his mind from time to time, but Hyun Woo would immediately shake his head.

Every time you increased by one level 10 stats would be granted. That fact didn’t change whether he was a level 50 or a 100. Essentially, that meant that the value of stats rose with each level.

Leveling up from 1 to 10 to get the stats would probably be faster than hunting mice, but going from level 100 to 110 would take so much more effort than right now. When he took that point into account, he had no other choice but to go through this grueling process.

‘Yeah, killing mice is the only way to restore my stats with the minimal risk. There are other things I can learn while killing mice.’

Hyun Woo has always lived with a positive attitude.

The reason why he didn’t quit computer prep school, even though he didn’t have the money to buy a single bowl of black bean noodles (jjajangmyun), was thanks to his positive mindset. He also had a great amount of patience.[T/N: A bowl of black bean noodles costs around 5 dollars.]

Truthfully, the harsh training in reality helped him to learn a lot.

In other games, victory was split into the attack and defense stats. There was no room for any other elements. However, in New World, a real sense of fighting and experience played a major role.

The user’s real strength and agility were not applied, but experience and reflex speed counted for a lot.

That is, if someone was attacked ten times with 10 points of agility, they could generally evade once. On the other hand, if they handled the situation with quick judgement, they’d be able to evade two or three out of ten times.

‘This is the same concept for when I’m attacking.’

By following the enemy’s movements, he maintained an advantageous distance.

It was a concept drilled into him over and over again when he learned Taekwondo a long time ago.

Of course, with an advantageous position, it was easier to avoid or counter-attack your opponent.

In New World, the rules of reality were directly applied.

It wasn’t a game where you could just recklessly strike once and get hit once.

It was a big enough benefit to know that.

Hyun Woo began to exercise in his spare time from that day on.

Exercise was the best way to hone his reflexes.

The only exercise Hyun Woo could accomplish without spending any money was the Taekwondo he learned in elementary and middle school.

When he went into high school, he stopped because of examinations, but he still had the skills of a third-dan. He didn’t remember everything he had learned, but it was still enough to work out by himself.

As he was cleaning out the mart cellar, he moved his body in the spare moments.

Afterward, he loosened his stiff body, stretched his legs, and did image training of fighting a bloody struggle with the mice. If he had a new thought, he adapted it in-game against the mice.

The days passed like this and he regained 30 stat points.

Even though he still had 50 points less than he’d had from the beginning, now he could fight the mice with his eyes closed.

There were approximately twenty to thirty mice to face with each quest he received, and now it didn’t even take him 10 minutes to clean them up. Of course, the speed at which he received the quests increased as well.

‘My thought was right after all. Ark gets stronger the more I exercise.’

Afterwards, Hyun Woo tried using his Taekwondo techniques in New World.

At first, there were a lot of awkward moments, but as he fought the mice he became more accustomed to them. And after a week, he could face two or three mice at once without the use of the dagger.

Thanks to that, he was able to save on the dagger’s repair costs.

What a truly deep and complex game!

He was in the worst situation, but Hyun Woo was getting more and more fascinated with New World.

* * *

‘Damn it, to think that I would actually die on purpose.’

Ark grumbled to himself in his faraway mind.

A swarm of mice was pounding on him like crazy.

On the tenth day after starting to hunt mice, Ark discovered yet another problem.

Mice only gave 1 EXP. However, those points accumulated and reached 99%. Had the situation been different, he would be grinning from ear to ear, but Ark’s expression was grim.

There was no way to find the stats he hadn’t regained yet if he leveled up like this.

Ark was agonized about it, but he decided to pull the trigger.

It was a way in which he would die on purpose and cut his experience. Every time he died, his experience was cut by 30% and his stats by 6 points. And by killing mice he gained 3% experience per 1 stat point. Overall, by dying once and killing mice to restore his stats, he was able to earn an extra 4 points.

‘I won’t lose out on a single point like this!’

He already invested 10 days into regaining his stats. Thus, it was ridiculous for him to start from a state of disadvantage after all that work. No, he couldn’t accept that to happen. Ark steeled his resolve and let the mice hit him to death.

Through repetitive mice hunting, he was finally able to regain 70 points in ten days.

Even so, he wasn’t even a little happy.

‘Even if I regain all of my points, I’ll just end up where I started from. Damn it, just you wait and see! I will never forgive those bastards Andel and Bulma, who are caused all this suffering!’

Ark, who was grinding his teeth, started to show a mad glint in his eyes.

Thanks to his wish for vengeance against Andel and Bulma, he was able to to stick to the arduous work of restoring his stats.

Around that time, he was able to obtain new knowledge from the game.

You have obtained a New Skill.Combat Skill (Beginner, Passive): Art of fighting utilising your fists and feet.

Fighting without equipping a weapon will not demonstrate your strength, but your evasion and accuracy will become higher. These additional benefits can be had even when using weapons.

Bare-handed striking power increased by 10%, accuracy up 3%, evasion up 3%.

‘Just like ‘Indomitable Will’, I see that if you do one thing for long enough, the skills you need will naturally be made.’

Though they called themselves information sites, they didn’t even have simple information like this. If anything, rather than proper information, there were baseless rumors that just caused confusion among the inexperienced players. Half of it was done as a joke, and the other half was meant to protect their advantageous positions. Those rumours fanned the distrust in Ark’s human form.

‘You never know, this could be a scheme unfolded by the other applicants. Those cheap bastards, it’s no good to believe the information sites too much anyways. No, you can’t even trust the other users. You have to find and learn everything by yourself.’

After the appearance of the skill, he was able to evade the mice’s attacks more when he fought with his bare hands, and it became much more comfortable to move his body. Since he gained the bonuses even when using weapons, it was an absolutely necessary skill.

Ark was becoming a famous specialty in Harun.

It was a given that people would be interested in the Ark who started killing only mice like crazy as soon as he entered the game. Furthermore, sometimes he would even let himself die on purpose. Because there was no way they could understand his actions, people started thinking that he had gone slightly bad in the head.

They must’ve been really curious, but none of them mustered up the courage to approach Ark to ask him. They just mumbled amongst themselves.

“Just what is he trying to do by killing mice which doesn’t give much experience or money?”

“There’s no way he’s trying to level up by catching mice, right?”

“Sure enough, if he’s killed many, he should have already gone up at least 3 levels.”

“But sometimes he dies, too.”

“It’s probably that he didn’t know better in the beginning and died and is doing this to regain his stats.”

Somebody’s words caught people’s attention.

“There’s a way to restore lost stats?”

There were still more people who didn’t know than those who did.

“Yes, in the case of high levels, it takes such a long time to level up so most people regain their stats by the time they level up. But at low levels, leveling up is fast so if you hunt outside, it’s easy to pass to the next level without regaining the stats. That’s why he’s only catching mice.”

“But that person has already been catching them for more than ten days. Just how many did he lose….”

“You’re right. Usually after that much one would just give up. He’s awfully determined.”

However, their talk did not reach Ark’s ears.

There was no reason to listen to other people because he had a definite goal. And now simply clearing the mice had another meaning other than regaining stats. The fighting senses he had familiarized his body with so far was invaluable if only for the experience.

“Ah ah, how long has it been since I received such warm help, now I can die without regrets.”

“Do not say such weak things. You have to live long and healthy.”

As Ark held the grandma’s hand tightly and said that, the information window appeared.

You have learned a new skill.Nursing (Beginner, Active): You can give patients hope by restoring their vigor and courage.

You give the patient an increase of 20% in vigor and courage by using this.

Mana use: 10

When Ark had completed the mouse-catching quest hundreds of times. Hansen sometimes gave him other quests, but they weren’t impressive enough to make his ears perk up.

“You know granny Johansson, right? That granny might die soon. They say they need to find someone to take care of her for a day. If it’s you, I can trust and leave her to you.”

“The restaurant is crowded these days, so they need some helping hand. If it’s you, then I can entrust you with the job.”

For the most part the jobs were small like this. Honestly, he wanted to pass on them, but Hansen only gave quests one at a time.

Whether he liked it or not, in order to receive the mouse catching quests, he had to complete those job quests as well. However, it was not always a bad thing.

For one, these quests had better pay. The pay was as much as one silver.

The repair cost for the rusted sword and leather clothes was 30 copper, and wheat bread cost 5 copper.

To Ark, 1 silver was not a small sum.

On top of that, he learned skills as well.

Well, they were insignificant skills he may or may not have a use for, but there was nothing wrong about expanding his skills. He was at the level where he could catch mice while taking breaks.

Thanks to the quests, his intimacy with the NPCs of Harun rose a lot.

Whenever he crossed the streets, NPCs started conversations with him, and the price of wheat bread and repair fees dropped by an enormous amount.

“S-Sorry to trouble you, but could you buy 100 pieces of wheat bread from me?”

“I am looking to repair a weapon…”

In the case of long swords, the repair cost exceeded a silver piece.

But when Ark gave them his sword, he only paid 70 copper pieces to get it repaired.

In this valley of beginners, 30 copper was a big sum. So quick, observant users did business with the merchants through Ark. Of course, Ark didn’t offer this service for free.

The price was 20% of the trade. This was Ark’s proposal.

“Instead of one silver, you know that there is a 20 copper service fee?”
“Can’t I give it to you next time? I only have 10 coppers.”

“No. Come next time.”
“You’re too much. It’s only 10 coppers.”

“If it’s stingy, then sir, raise your reputation in Harun village. If you do about one hundred mice-catching quests, then the price should go down some. Well, your level won’t rise though.”

“I’lI definitely pay you back next time.”
“I only believe in money.”
“… Here’s the money.”

At the sight of the offered 10 coppers, whose existence had been denied again and again, Ark snorted.

For the second time, he decided not to trust users.

On the day when Ark first came into New World and acted thoughtlessly, two thousand other applicants started the game at around the same time.

They were all his rivals. There was no doubt that there had been competitors in Harun.

‘There’s a chance Andel and Bulma were candidates. No, I don’t know about Bulma, but Andel definitely is one.’

Andel had gotten Ark into this mess. If Andel had figured out that Ark was an applicant, then that was the definite choice.The decisive and easiest way to stand on top of all the competition is to push off your opponents.

And most applicants probably had the same thoughts.

‘I, too, will now do the same without hesitation if given the chance.’

In the end, the game was like reality, a struggle for existence. He’d paid a price to realise his ignorance, but it was a relief that he’d come to know it sooner than later.

Because he wouldn’t make the same mistake again.

He’d rather believe the NPCs than the competing users.

There wasn’t even a need to look at the situation.

After having saved money fiercely, somewhere along the line, he had saved up a large sum of 5 gold in his bag.

There wasn’t a user who had spent half a month in the village of Harun. It was the first time a user in Harun had saved 5 gold pieces. Because he’d defeated mice with constant perseverance, he had only 1 point left to restore. The problem was that his experience was at 99%…

‘Do I have to die one more time?’

Now, dying wasn’t even a big deal.

Ark had no intention of giving up on even one point.

In order to die yet another time, he went looking for Hansen to receive a quest

“I’ve completed the previous quest you gave me. Please give me another job.”

But Hansen’s response was strange.

Hansen looked over Ark with a peculiarly warm light in in his eyes and said the following words.

“There is no longer any work to give you in this town.”
“What?”

Ark was shocked.

There were no commissions? Doesn’t this mean there wasn’t a way to restore the remaining stat?

Just like in the past, he was still level 1. But because of his excessive fighting experience, he was confident he could knock out a Wild Dog.

But one death meant experience was cut by 30%. Because Wild Dogs gave a lot of experience, 30% exp would fill up before he could earn 6 points. In the end, it meant that even if he died fighting the Wild Dogs, he’d still lose out on points.

‘I never thought these quests had a limit line.’

Even if you looked in the forums, there wasn’t anything about the limit of requests in beginning villages. Although he hadn’t counted, Ark had done over three hundred quests so far. Ark had also thought there were unlimited quests. To suddenly say there were no quests…

‘Do I have to end it here and start with 1 point missing?’

It was similar to having something stick out like a sore thumb. If there were a lot of points missing, then he would simply overlook and ignore it. However, giving up with a single point missing didn’t sit right with him.

At that moment, Hansen suddenly grasped Ark’s hand and opened his mouth.

“Until now, I have seen a great amount of people in this place, but there has never been anyone who gave as much as you have for the village. I am touched.”

‘Well, that’s pretty obvious. Are you nuts? Who would repeat these types of quests over 300 times?’

Ark was enraged but put a tight clamp on his anger and awkwardly tried to laugh.

“This place is like my home. If it’s something I can do, of course I have to help out. It hurts my heart that there isn’t anything else I can help with.”

His intimacy with Hansen was already at its maximum. Though there wasn’t anything that would come of it, there was no need to cut down the intimacy he’d raised.

This was something he’d felt so far while playing New World. The NPCs talked and acted like real people. It was rumoured, each and every one of the NPCs globally could think independently like real people.

It was a given that they worked in the day and slept at night. There were even times when they caught sick and didn’t open shop.

There were cases of them interacting with users and deciding the user needed to learn to speak more politely, which caused the intimacy to drop and their prices to rise.

“Don’t you think there might be some other kind of job? I want to help so badly I’m going crazy.”

“No, this is plenty now. You didn’t look over anyone with contempt and worked without rest for this frontier village. You even went as far as to have several near-death experiences. I know it all. You are already a hero in this village. And I, with the feeling that I have nurtured you, venture to call you this. You are a Mouse Hunter!”

Suddenly, as cheerful music flowed forth, the information window appeared.

You have received Harun Village’s Elder Hansen’s title of Mouse Hunter.You are recognized as a specialist at dealing with mice.

When facing mice your attack power increases by 30%. When facing mice the chance of critical hits rises by 20%. The chance of evading mouse attacks rises by 20%.

*The received title increases all stats by a bonus of 1.
*Fame increases by 50.

 

You have learned a new skill.Spirit of the Cat (Beginner, Active): A cat’s roar which, in the eyes of mice, will cause them to tremble in terror.

30 second paralysis. Attack and defense (Fighting Morale) decreases by 20% (Only applies to mice).

Mana consumption: 80

In a moment Ark’s downcast face immediately brightened.

The ability to deal harder blows to mice made him happy, if nothing else. The important thing was the all stats +1! He had received an unimagined bonus. At the same time, he must have received a few experience points because the accumulated 99% experience had disappeared and gained a level.

Ark hastily opened his status window and confirmed it. Every stat was fixed at 16, and only his intelligence stayed at 15. In the corner, he saw the sparkling 10 points he’d won through leveling up.

‘This kind of windfall…!’

Ark was smiling from ear to ear.

Now, Ark was no longer behind a stat point, and he was 5 points ahead of other people. This was an enormously difficult achievement.

Until now, there were almost no known ways to raise stats besides leveling up.

There were rumours which said if you did some layered quests or were bestowed with a title, stats would increase. However, there was no detailed information available, but Ark, who was still level 1 and in the beginner town, had gained a bonus of 6 points.

‘Repeating the mice hunting quests 300 times paid off!’

He felt a tingly sense of delight. At the same time his hardships immediately melted away. Ark left the information window up for the moment and wondered.

He was worried about where to distribute the newly attained stats. Because he didn’t yet know what his profession was going to be, he had to be careful with the distribution. In the end, Ark invested all the points in agility, as he’d previously planned.

Agility was, for the most part, a stat most professions needed. As it was a good thing that beginners invest all their points in agility, Ark came to a conclusion.

‘There, now I should be able to leisurely start hunting Wild Dogs.’

Ark was just about to turn his body away, while wearing a satisfied smile.

“But hey, don’t you perhaps have any thoughts of trying a new job?”

“What? Didn’t you say there wasn’t any work?”

“No, well, it’s not village work, but there’s a job that bothers me a little…”

Ark turned around with an interested expression.

Until now, he hadn’t heard about anyone receiving a quest from Hansen besides the village ones. Nonetheless, after completing over three hundred mice assassination quests, Ark had also received only village quests. However, for the first time, he had received a different commission from Hansen.

‘Is it a quest available only after you’ve received the Mouse Hunter title?’

So to speak, it was the first. It was a given he was interested. Having already received a title and bonus stats, he was so happy he could hardly contain it. Ark quickly replied to Hansen.

“If it’s Grandpa’s request, I’ll do any work no matter what it is.”

“Thank you. But to be honest, even I can’t make a judgement on what this opportunity is. I’m not sure how dangerous it will be either. This was the reason why I couldn’t bring it up until now. Anyway, if you are willing to do it, look for the bar owner, Kraydon, and ask for the details.”

The Bar Owner Kraydon’s WorriesThe bar owner Kraydon has been agonizing over a new worry for several days.

Meet him and listen to his situation.
Level of Difficulty: —

“I will go look for him right away.”

Ark bowed and set off for the bar.

“Oh, Ark. As expected, it’s you who came.”

Kraydon greeted him with a welcoming voice.

Ark was probably the first user he’d called by name.

“Yes. Hi, how are you? So, I heard there’s some kind of problem?”

“Indeed. No, no there isn’t. To be honest, it’s not enough to call it a problem… Over the past few days I’ve been hearing some strange talk.”

“Strange talk?”

“As you know, mice have continued to appear no matter how many you’ve killed recently. You should know how much I suffered because of that, right?”

‘I’m the one who suffered. While receiving just 10 pieces of bread.’

Ark had a fit of anger, but on the surface he laughed naively and nodded his head.

“I know. But isn’t it okay these days?”

“It’s a little quieter. However, only a few days ago, I heard some strange talk from some guests. You know the Harilal mountain in this area, right? While crossing that mountain, they discovered a strange cave. Do you know what they said was inside the cave? The vile mice. They said a really unbelievable number of mice were living there.”

“Then has that swarm of mice been coming to the village from that cave?”

“There’s a high possibility that’s the case. But if tourists’ words were true, we should take action.”

Kraydon scratched his beard and gave Ark a look.

It was a look that hoped Ark would look into the details.

“Is it fine if I investigate that cave?”

“That’s right. If it’s the one who received the title of Mouse Hunter, I can entrust it to you.”

This guy can spread rumours throughout town quickly.

“Ok, I’ll take a look at once.”

Ark accepted without much thought. Then, his request window changed to ‘Unknown Cave Exploration.’ The difficulty level rose from ‘—’ to ‘G’ but he didn’t pay much attention to it. In the information he’d looked up, G difficulty quests were about the level of catching Wild Dogs.

“I’m thankful. Since I’ve found out the approximate area, I’ll mark it on your map.”

After Kraydon had finished what he was saying, the map window spread out.

The enormously large map was mostly black, and only the areas surrounding Harun were lit up. In the inner part of the Harilal mountain chain surrounding the village, there was a blinking light. As expected, it was an area that he’d never seen even once in the information sites.

So to speak, it was a hidden dungeon!

It was common knowledge that dungeons were treasure houses for items.

Although because it was a G difficulty quest in a beginning village he could not hope for an impressive item, for Ark who was equipping a rusted sword, even a single broken shield would be a big treasure.

Above all, discovering a dungeon no one else knew about held an impressive sense of achievement.

Ark then left the bar in a hurry to prepare for his journey.

‘I guess I should organize these now.’

There were a lot of odds and ends filling up his bag.

The 3 leathers and meat he’d gained while catching wolves and the 10 wheat breads he’d gained each time he completed one of three hundred mice-killing quests.

At first, he had eaten them as he’d received them, but after he started killing mice with ease the wheat breads accumulated. It was to the point that he would eat 1~2 of them when his satiety dropped all the way to the bottom.

And so after a while he had accumulated over 1000 wheat breads.

Even though they were stored by 100 pieces each, there wasn’t any room for other items.

‘I’ll leave 100 pieces securely in my bag and let’s sell the rest.’

Ark went to the General Merchandise store and sold his wheat bread. Originally the wheat bread was a product that couldn’t be sold once it was bought.

But thanks to his maximum intimacy, there was no impossibility for Ark. Each wheat bread was worth 1 copper piece.

Of course, if he’d sold them to users, he’d receive 2 copper pieces, but he couldn’t not afford to waste time for just a copper piece difference. For Ark, who only had a limited time to play the game, time was of the essence.

Selling 2000 wheat breads yielded 20 silvers.

Ark used that money to repair his equipment and left for the Harilal mountains.

Back to top

Chapter 3 : First Dungeon

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


Yowwwl!

With a yelp, the Wolf’s body was split in half.

The bodies of the Wolves slowly turned into fragments, dropping leather and meat.

Ark gathered the spoils and opened his Status Window.

Character Name

Ark

Race

Human

Fame

50

Level

5

Profession

None

Title

Mouse Hunter

Health

155

Mana

100

Strength

26

Agilitiy

36

Stamina

26

Wisdom

16

Intelligence

16

Luck

16

“Looks like I can deal with a Wolf without too much of a problem.”

Even after receiving the request, Ark didn’t immediately head off to the cave.

Although the dungeon was supposedly in the area around the starting village, a level two player couldn’t be conceited enough to stroll up and down wherever he wanted. There was no knowing what dangers there might be.

The bitter experience of death penalties was a mistake Ark did not want to repeat. Therefore, he could only be at ease by gaining some levels before reaching the cave.

On the second day of dedicating himself to hard-core hunting, Ark finally reached level 5.

He invested all of the stat points from level 3 into Agility, and then put raised his strength to increase his attack power. Lastly, he put 10 points into Stamina to increase his Health. Since every point of Stamina raised his Health by 5, it was now at 155.

This may be obvious, but Ark had become much stronger.

At first, his life had gone down by 30 when he was scratched by a Wolf, but now it was down to about 20. Besides, he had gained exceptional fighting experience from defeating at least ten thousand Mice!

If he was lucky, he could kill one Wolf after losing only 70 Health. It was something normal users at level five couldn’t even be able to imagine.

As he hunted the way he wanted without a hitch, his confidence also rose.

‘Should I slowly head over to the cave now?’

Ark rose from his seat. Only 30 wheat breads were left out of the 100 he had prepared.

He drank water whenever needed, but he had been hard-pressed to do so with the wheat breads.

If his satiety dropped to below 50, his stats temporarily fell.

‘There are good points to learning how to cook…’

In New World, the art of cooking was its own skill.

If the Cooking skill rose, it wasn’t just the decreased fullness and Stamina that could be restored, but Strength and Stamina could also be temporarily raised. Additionally, a realistic taste could be savored. That’s why everyone wanted to learn the Cooking skill.

Nevertheless, Ark still had no thoughts of learning to cook.

To learn a manufacturing skill, you have to meet the Master Artisan NPC, and the Cooking Master was in a faraway place. There would probably be an opportunity to learn it someday, so there was no reason invest the time to travel all the way there. Just learning the cooking skill didn’t mean he’d be able to immediately make luxurious dishes. He wouldn’t even be able to afford the ingredients to cook the luxury food.

There was also the inconvenience of having to carry the necessary ingredients. The bag Ark had gotten when he’d started was all he had, so he didn’t have much storage space. He couldn’t afford to carry cooking ingredients.

It was definitely a vital skill, but there was no need for him to go through hell just to learn it early game.

‘In any case, wheat bread is good enough for now. Since I have 30 wheat breads left, it should be enough for a round trip to the cave.’

Ark checked his map and began aggressively looking for the cave. He had already ventured deep into Harilal Mountain while hunting Wild Dogs and Wolves. The entrance to the cave was not far.

He followed the mountain slope, and after 30 minutes of walking, a copse of old oaks emerged. His eyes picked up the cleverly hidden cave entrance within the copse.

As soon as Ark put one foot into the cave, a sound effect similar to a sonorous shout rang out as the information window surfaced.

You have discovered a suspicious cave with an acrid smell and eerie chills flowing out of the deep and dark cave in the Harilal mountain range.

You can feel that old secrets are being treasured here.

– You have discovered a dungeon no one has found until now.

Because you are a new explorer, if you register yourself in the Hall of Fame you will gain 500 experience and 50 fame.

Will you like to register?

“I refuse.” Ark replied without hesitation.

He had to hunt at least ten Wolves to get 500 experience. If he registered the cave in the Hall of Fame, a lot of people would find out about it.

For an undiscovered cave like this, there was no knowing what secrets or items might be waiting.

The greatest advantage of a newly discovered dungeon was that he could monopolise it. He hadn’t scouted it yet, and there was a high chance that a higher level user might beat him to the punch.

On the New World home page, there were simple-minded users who uploaded dungeon item lists and many others who laid in wait while biding their time.

‘I’d rather kill ten Wolves than to register this cave in the Hall of Fame.’

Once again, he was glad that he had done a lot of research.

If he’d come here without knowing anything like the first time, he would’ve thoughtlessly registered it in the Hall of Fame.

However, Ark was not the insipid person he used to be. It was common sense for him to be more cautious and alert than monsters, NPCs or even other users.

‘Now, what exactly is in here.’

Ark controlled his trembling excitement and stepped into the dungeon.

The smell of something rotting was overflowing with realism and stimulated his senses. It was so strong and terrible that he wondered if there really was a need to make even smells so real.

It happened when Ark had walked 100 meters into the cave.

Suddenly, his foot sank into something squishy. Startled, he jumped and felt the ground wriggle and climb up. In another moment, the image of the blackness swallowing him flashed into his mind and he lashed out.

“Wha-What’s all this? Don’t tell me they’re all Mice?”

Ark turned pale with fright. The things that were crawling up from the ground were all Mice. That was not all. He hadn’t noticed it until now, but the pitch black Mouse swarm was covering the entire cave.

Every time the Mice moved, it was like a wriggling wave over the whole cave.

The Mice emitted a terrible bloodthirst that made his spine go cold. The courage he had dedicated himself to raising was no use. Ark urgently flailed in the darkness. With one blow, a number of Mice went flying away and rolled onto the ground. That was thanks to the Mouse Hunter title he’d received, which raised his attack power and chance of critical hits.

‘Hmph, do you know how many Mice I’ve killed until now?’

Once he saw how big of an effect his one blow had, his fear dissipated.

No matter how many there were, in the end they were just Mice. With the attack bonus, even if he didn’t land a critical hit, there was no need for a second blow.

Without rest, Ark mowed down the Mice that were coming at him from all sides.

However, the number of Mice did not seem to decline.

‘Damn, if it goes on like this there’ll be no end. I have to run away.’

“The Spirit of the Cat!”

Nyaaaaaaaaaaaaa-!

Although he had learned it, he hadn’t actually thought that he’d be able to use it. Anyway, the Spirit of the Cat demonstrated an absolute effect on the Mice.

As soon as Ark used the skill, a splittingly searing cat’s cry pierced the air and the shape of a black cat appeared above his head. Upon seeing the cat’s flashing eyes, the Mice were paralyzed with fear.

In that space of time, Ark cut down the Mice in his path and escaped to the outside of the cave.

Although the paralyzing effect on the Mice wore off quickly, they didn’t chase him out of the cave.

“Phew, what a relief.”

Outside, Ark ate wheat bread and drank water to restore his stamina.

For there to be an innumerable swarm of Mice… It was truly a dizzying experience.

‘But I can’t just give up like this.’

Ark checked his quest window.

The quest hadn’t been updated yet. That meant he had to go in further. No, quest aside, he already had experience hunting tens and thousands of Mice. It would be stupid of him to give up on the quest just because the cave was infested with Mice.

‘I charged right in since it was my first time and didn’t know a thing, but I should be fine if I calmly work my self forward from the entrance.’

Ark entered the cave, cleared about one hundred Mice, and retreated. After doing this cycle three or four times, a sound effect rang out and a message window popped up.

You have learned a new skill.

Sword Mastery (Beginner, Passive): You have taken the first step towards being a Swordsman.

From now on, whenever you wield a sword, all penalties received shall disappear.

You can now use your sword as an extension of your own hand. You have become more skilled with connecting your sword skills to circumstances when you use them with other skills.

You will gain bonus attack power, based on your sword skill level.

*It has become possible to use the effect of ‘Swordsmanship’ as a combo, with Hand-to-Hand Combat. (Swordsmanship follows the levels of Sword Mastery and Hand-to-Hand Combat and rises accordingly.)

‘Sword Mastery has finally appeared.’

When he was hunting in the village, it was almost always with bare hands. It had been a waste to use the sword to kill the Mice and have to pay the repair fee. That’s why Sword Mastery, a skill that other users would have gained first, had only just appeared. However, it was fortunate that he had learned Sword Mastery later.

When he was first catching the Mice, Ark hadn’t known about the existence of a separate Sword Mastery skill. If he had known, he probably would have used his sword despite the repair fees.

But because he hadn’t known, he had continued to fight with his bare hands. Thanks to that, he had been able to learn Hand-to-Hand Combat. Although Hand-to-Hand Combat was a bare-handed skill, the bonuses applied slightly to every weapon he used.

The bonuses from Sword Mastery– if they were combined with the bonuses from Hand-to-Hand Combat, then in actuality his attack power was raised by 1.5 times. That was an effect he was able to feel right away.

‘Moving is very comfortable!’

Although he was wielding a sword there were no breaks in his movements

The attacks flowed like water!

Thanks to the effect of Sword Mastery, while he was wildly swinging his sword, he was also able to perform kicks. The skill that had been impossible until a little while ago had become possible. And without resting, he was able to ward off the attacking swarm of Mice.

‘So I see that if a related skill is learned, then new abilities form too!’

For the Hand-to-Hand Combat he had regarded as trivial to be so useful was something he hadn’t imagined.

When his combined attacking power rose, he’s hunting speed rose exponentially.

With a full health bar, he was able to hunt two hundred Mice with ease.

After going into the cave five or six times like that, the entrance to the cave was jet-black with Mouse corpses. To make a rough estimate, a thousand of them had fallen over and died.

He had killed so many that his level had gone up to 6 as well.

Ark pushed past the disgusting Mouse corpses and went into the cave.

Just then, something deep within the cave sparkled.

When he got closer and looked, it was a body with only bones left.

If a user dies, his corpse disappeared with his revival.

‘So that must mean this is the corpse of an NPC.’

Then there was a big possibility that his quest information would be updated.

Ark sifted through the remains and discovered a small piece of parchment on the inside.

It may have been something the corpse had written; there was minute handwriting written on the surface.

– ‘Unfortunate Traveler’s left-behind piece of parchment’ has been acquired.

3 years have passed since I received Sir Viscount Havestein’s command and set out searching for its trails. And with divine intervention, I was able to find what I was searching for by pure chance. But to think such an unimaginable demon would be living within the cave.

I was extremely caught off guard. If that was here, then I should have definitely anticipated trouble… Everything is my fault. Because I’ve already come carelessly into the cave, I’ve suffered a huge wound. Is the Viscount’s desire going to come to an end like this?

I am so bitter. It’s regretful but the secret within the darkness of this cave will be…

Whatever was written in continuation of the parchment had been gnawed away by Mice.

‘I can smell that there’s more to this somewhere.’

As he’d thought, the cave wasn’t simply a Mouse cavern.

He couldn’t understand the contents of the parchment, but there was definitely something inside the cave. The probability that the mentioned ‘that’ was an item was high. Ark’s motivation swelled inside him. He tucked the parchment away and continued into the cave.

“Euurgghh!”

With one blow, Ark threw three or four Mice to the floor.

There were only Mice within the cave. The Mice at the entrance had been nothing. Wherever he went, there were Mice running at him from all directions.

The number of Mice that were cut down and cut again seemed to increase more and more. But who was Ark? In Harun, he had cleared hundreds of Mice requests, and he had struck down as many as one thousand Mice and had earned the title of Mouse Hunter.

“You bastards, today you’ve really met your match. SPIRIT OF THE CAT!”

He may have been driven into a corner, but at least there was no risk of death.

When it became dangerous, he immediately used the Spirit of the Cat to paralyze the Mice and escaped from the cave.

Ark crazily ran in and out of the cave and slowly stepped further and further into the cave. After 3 hours had passed, yet another problem emerged.

‘I underestimated it because it was just a beginner dungeon, but it’s deeper than I thought. But I only have 10 wheat breads left now.’

The problem was the wheat bread. If his satiety dropped, the rate of health restoration would severely decrease. If it dropped to below half, his stats would fall temporarily, and if it fell to the zero, in the worst case scenario, he could even die. If he ran out of wheat bread, there’d be no way for him to continue exploring.

‘Do I have to go back to the village and stock up on wheat bread?’

That was a problem in itself. Even if you cleared monsters, after a certain amount of time they spawned again. And the smaller they were, the faster they respawned. Though he’d advanced hundreds of meters into the cave, if he went back to the village and came back, he’d have to start from the beginning.

‘I’m gonna go crazy. If I knew it’d be like this I wouldn’t have sold the wheat bread….’

As Ark was having those thoughts, a brilliant plan surfaced in his mind.

‘Could it be possible?’

Ark thought about it for a moment and stood up.

‘Well, there’s probably nothing to lose by trying.’

* * *

Swish, smack!

Ark was struck by a Wolf wandering on the outskirts of the cave.

The Wolf snarled and leapt at him. Now, Wolves and the like were no match for Ark.

Brandishing his sword like lightning, Ark put the Wolf into a near death. But when it came to the final blow, he put away his sword. While being careful not to kill the Wolf, he controlled his strength and struck it with his foot.

Yelp!

The Wolf whimpered as he kicked it aside.

However, Ark held no mercy for it. He stared at it as it panted, when it seemed to get a little better he beat it, and after doing this for three minutes the Wolf finally went into a frenzy.

Awooo!

The forest violently shook, as the Wolf cried out with all of its remaining strength.

A dozen Wolves who heard the heartrending story of their comrade rushed out at him.

‘It’s done!’

Ark had a smile full of satisfaction on his face as he rapidly fled towards the cave.

Ark quickly used Spirit of the Cat to paralyze the Mice and went deeper into the cave. When he reached a place where there were less Mice, the paralyzation wore off and the Mice piled themselves layer upon layer on Ark.

‘I might even die if I fail!’

Ark didn’t pull out his sword and concentrated on using all his strength to evade the attacks. But because there were so many Mice attacking him, he felt as if his life was getting sucked out with a straw. To top it all, the Wolves were pitching in too, so in an instant, he was bitten an extreme number of times.

However, soon after, the Wolves stopped attacking him. The Mice had started to attack the Wolves too.

The Wolf horde was startled when the enormous swarm of Mice ran at them. However, they were Wolves; the Wolves couldn’t just tuck their tails and flee.

The Wolves bared their fangs and started attacking the Mice.

“Yes, just as planned!” Ark shouted in delight.

New World boasted a system that had few differences with reality. That meant whether they were animals or monsters, it was the same.

In fact, even when Ark came to New World, he had seen instances of Wolves catching and eating rabbits and field Mice. That meant that natural enemies applied too.

Ark, who had figured that out, had purposely gathered the Wolves and lured them into the cave.

The result was a huge success. The best, most perfect situation had opened up for Ark. In the middle of the cave, the Wolf horde were leaping and bucking and the Mice were enveloped in chaos. Since the Mice must have judged the Wolves to be more dangerous than Ark, they were all running at the Wolves.

Ark took a step back and watched the Mice and Wolves fight at his leisure. Each time his mana was restored, he used Spirit of the Cat.

After 10 minutes had passed in that manner, the Mice were almost gone.

“Hu hu hu. You did well.”

With a satisfied smile, Ark took care of the staggering Wolves.

Although they were in a dying state, the Wolves still gave the proper amount of experience.

Simply put, it was like taking a candy from a child!

To earn this unexpected benefit… It was like killing two birds with one stone.

‘Am I perhaps a genius?’

Although he’d thought of it himself, it was truly a brilliant method. There were no restrictions on what methods you used to solve a quest. You could even go as far as to kill the person who gave you the request.

Of course, in that case, the penalties attached were extreme, but the near infinite degree of freedom was one of New World’s charming centerpoints.

Even after that, Ark gathered all the Wolves in the area and had them fight with the Mice. Then he cleared off the Mice and Wolves that were left. Thanks to that, his level went up and up and he reached level 8, and although he’d only consumed 2 wheat breads, he was able to go deeper into the cave.

‘This is a really deep cave. Though I think I’ve gone really deep into the cave, I don’t see any worthwhile items… surely it’s not going to end with just Mice all the way to the end?’

Bit by bit, anxiety reared his head.

It was when Ark was having those thoughts, that all of a sudden, with a thud sound, the Mice that had been running at him crazily, abruptly flinched and ran, scattering left and right.

‘Huh? What’s this?’

Ark, who had been turning his head back and forth with an incredulous look, took in a sudden breath. From within the darkness, on the other side of where the Mice had fled, were a pair of red orbs.

“W-What is this bastard?”

The slowly approaching red orbs took form.

Surprisingly, the orbs were the eyes of a Mouse.

It wasn’t a Mouse the likes of which Ark had faced until now. It was easily 10 times bigger than a Wolf — a massive Mouse monster. Enraged that some bastard had intruded, it ROARED and the entire cave shook.

This terrible fear!

Ark’s legs trembled and the strength went right out of him.

Terrified, the Wolves tucked their tails and fled out of the cave.

“Oh my god. No way, this bastard….”

Was the identity of the demon written of on the parchment this monster?

It was highly likely.

He had written that he’d gotten a fatal wound in the cave. And the place where he had died hadn’t been far from the entrance. For he who had traveled a distance after receiving a command from an Aristocrat, to have been unable to escape the cave with a fatal wound… that had been an inconsistency.

‘He went all the way into the cave and met this demon. Then, while inflicted with a fatal wound, he ran away only to be attacked by a swarm of Mice, and he collapsed. That’s what happened.’

If he thought like that, there were no inconsistencies. And it was highly likely that Ark would be punished with the same fate.

The dread Ark felt when he had first met a Wolf was incomparable to the horror that drowned him now. At this critical moment, the contents of the quest were updated.

– Boss monster ‘Black Bear Mouse’ has appeared.

 

The quest has been updated.

Unknown cave exploration → The mysterious organism living within the cave.

You discovered a massive demon Mouse while exploring the cave.

There’s no doubt this demon Mouse has been controlling all the other Mice.

Escape the cave quickly and tell this truth to the bar owner Kraydon.

Level of difficulty: F

As expected, there wasn’t any mention of having to kill the demon Mouse. That was probably because at his current level, that was impossible. Moreover, just relaying the information about the demon Mouse had a difficulty level of F.

To be sure, he saw a large possibility that the pitch black Mouse swarm was going out of the cave to avoid the demon Mouse. All of the possible situations were the worst, but Ark’s eyes were actually glowing instead.

‘Then that means this Mouse is an lump of experience and items!’

His greed exceeded his horror.

An avaricious light sparkled in Ark’s eyes.

A boss monster was no different from a treasure chest that gave all adventurers the honor of finding it!

It was the first boss monster he’d met. He couldn’t just withdraw without fighting it.

‘Running away is gonna be tough anyways. Then let’s see, let’s find out how strong you are and fight once!’

Ark courageously raised his sword and charged. However, in the next moment, his expression changed to one of embarrassment. He had swung the rusted sword with all his strength, but the demon Mouse didn’t even register the blow.

The thick leather covering the body had deflected the sword.

Squeek, kiayaa!

The huge Mouse lashed out with its front paw.

When he blocked it with his sword, his palm throbbed from the impact.

‘Oh my god, I blocked it with my sword but my stamina was still cut!’

A full bite from a Wolf cut his health by 30 points. Even though he’d blocked the attack from the demon Mouse, 30 health had been cut away. If he was really hit, he wouldn’t be able to endure two or three hits.

“Damn it, Spirit of the Cat!”

Nyaaaaaaaaaaa!

When Ark used this as the last measure, the regular Mice were paralyzed. Shortly after, the demon Mouse roared and the Mice quickly regained consciousness.

‘Oh my god, Spirit of the Cat doesn’t work!’

Ark completely lost his previous ambition and turned his body away. In that moment, the Mouse swarm attacked him from all directions. While Ark was struggling in the Mouse swarm, a heavy blow connected with his back and pain exploded.

– You have been stunned. All movements are blocked for five seconds.

Immediately, his health was cut by 50 and his consciousness became fuzzy. Before his consciousness could return, he was hit by another attack. At last his health reached rock bottom, and Ark collapsed to the floor.

* * *

“Damn it!”

Ark fumed and went inside the bar.

After the demon Mouse’s attacks, Ark lost his life. When he opened his eyes, he was back at the Quartermaster at the entrance of Harun village. However, the quest had updated, he had to stop by the tavern to give necessary reports.

“Oh! Ark, you have returned safe and sound!”

As per usual, Kraydon greeted Ark gladly.

Ark immediately took a look around and shut his mouth before giving his report.

Inside the tavern, some users were sitting and eyeing them. Because Ark did not want anyone else to know about the existence of the cave, he called Kraydon out to the warehouse.

Kraydon’s face turned pale after Ark had told him what he had encountered inside the cave.

“The cave has been inhabited by a terrifying monster.”

“If that’s the case, this is no time to be standing around like this. Before the bastard comes and brings danger to the village, we have to tell Lord the truth. I’ll also ask him to send soldiers at once, to deal with the bastard.”

“Ah, you can’t!”

Ark shouted indignantly.

“What? Why not? What do you mean?”
“Um… Well, you know…”

‘Damn, I shouldn’t have talked about it.’

If the Lord dispatched Soldiers, then of course the users would also come to know of it.

If that happened, Ark will no longer have monopoly over the treasures of the cave. Soldiers might take it, or give onlooking players an opportunity to take it.

That would make Ark feel jealous to death.

‘That can’t happen, absolutely not! The cave is mine. Up until now, how much time have I invested in order to obtain treasures inside the cave? Now there’s one demon Mouse to kill, they can’t just come waltzing in at the last moment!’

However, he could not say his thoughts out loud.

After contemplating on what to do, Ark put his hopes on his intimacy with Kraydon and spoke.

“This is a job you requested of me. You believed in me and entrusted it to me, right? To repay your trust, I want to solve this with my own hands. So please give me a little more time. I will certainly repay your trust in me.”

“Yes, I didn’t know you cared that much about me. Of course, I believe in you. However, this isn’t a matter I can decide on by myself. The safety of the whole village is hanging on this. Even if we barely miss the timing, everything could become dangerous. I’m saying this can’t wait until you’ve become a worthy warrior.”

“I’m begging you. Give me a chance to restore my honor.”
Ark said it with an imploring light in his eyes.

Truthfully, he wasn’t the type of person to say those apologetic words to anyone. However, he was facing an NPC. Even though he acted almost exactly like a human, in the end he was still a computer-generated artificial intelligence. There was no reason for his pride to turn sour over saying such sorry words to an AI.

As Ark begged pathetically, Kraydon deliberated with an uncomfortable look.

“For you of all people to say such things, I can’t stay stubborn. That this village is peaceful right now is all thanks to you, after all. Alright, then let’s do it like this. For now I’ll give you ten days. If I don’t hear from you after that, I’ll ask Lord Jackson for help. Will that do?”

“Ten days…..”

One day in real life was three in the game.

So to speak, one week was three days in real life.

The time it had taken to clear the cave until now was already precious. Furthermore, to play the game he couldn’t give up his job, so even if he reduced his sleeping time to the maximum, the time he had left was a little more than a day.

And Kraydon was wearing an resolute expression that said he couldn’t make anymore exceptions. In the end, Ark nodded.

Though it was too much to ask… There was nothing he could do but to try.

“I understand. Let’s do that to put the village’s safety first.”

“I’m glad you understand. Then I’ll believe and entrust this to you.”

The quest has been updated.

The mysterious organism living within the cave: After hearing about the demon Mouse in the hidden cave, Kraydon has asked you to defeat the demon Mouse.

Stipulation, this request has a time limit of ten days. If you do not clear the demon Mouse within this time, Kraydon will tell the truth to the Lord, and the request will be automatically cancelled.

Level of difficulty: +F

As he’d anticipated, the quest that involved personally slaying the demon Mouse had a ‘+’ attached to the difficulty level. ‘+’ indicated an elite quest, something that had to be completed with a party.

F difficulty level was roughly for level 15 and below. That meant that this was a request that could be resolved with a party of users at level 15.

However, when it came to parties now, Ark was the type of person to grind his teeth.

‘There’s no way I’m doing it with a party!’

To be honest, it was a matter Ark had thought about often. The quest’s contents were to deal with the demon Mouse, but at his level of 8, it was impossible.

‘A week from now. I have to somehow secretly go into the demon Mouse’s cave and take the treasure.’

As long as he was able to get the treasure, whatever happened to the demon Mouse was none of his concern.

As Ark was thinking that, he turned to leave. The closely watching Kraydon abruptly asked.

“After a closer look, it seems like you don’t have many supplies left.”

“Yes, as I spent time on the cave investigation, before I knew it….”

Ark replied with the most pitiful expression on his face. He thought he might be able to receive some free wheat breads. If he could save even 1 silver, he could put on a pitiful expression any day. Then, after staring blankly at Ark’s face, Kraydon opened his mouth again.

“Do you have any thoughts of learning how to cook?”

“Cooking?”

Ark questioned with an expression that said he didn’t follow.

“Actually, at one time I went traveling to a lot of places like you. The thing that troubled me the most was the problem of food. However, even if you learn how to cook, if you don’t have the ingredients, isn’t that just useless? So in order to solve that problem, I started learning how to cook in a completely different way. It’s a cooking method that doesn’t cost money, and there’s no need to carry around ingredients.”

“Does such a cooking method exist?”

It was really a sound that made his ears perk up.

“Alright, until now I haven’t found any worthy travelers, so I haven’t passed this down to anyone yet. If it’s you, who has unfailingly helped me this long with all your heart, it’s a different matter. You always carried an ample supply of bread with you, so I thought you wouldn’t need this…. if you want it, I’ll teach it to you.”

“Yes, please!”

You have learned a new skill.

Survival Cooking (Special, Beginner, Passive): The owner of the bar in Harun, Kraydon, created this original method of cooking. If you learn this skill, you can use almost every type of food found in nature as ingredients to make food. However, the result cannot be predicted.

Therefore, to find out the effects of the food, you may have to put your life on the line….

 

Ingredient Foraging (Beginner, Passive): You can gather a variety of food ingredients from nature.

‘Put your life on the line to discover the effect of food?’

The last part was troubling, but he was fairly satisfied with the skill. He could use all the ingredients he could find in nature to make food. Then if he just learned several recipes, he could endure for several days in remote places like the cave even without wheat bread.

Indeed, Survival Cooking had a name that suited it perfectly. For him to learn such a skill for free… NPCs had to be treated with friendliness after all.

And on top of that Kraydon pulled out a large pot and handed it to him.

“If you’re to do Survival Cooking, you’re going to need this too.”

– You have acquired an iron pot for Survival Cooking.

“Thank you!”

Ark bowed and slipped out of the bar.

[T/N: In Korea, it is customary to bow to your elders when you see them and leave them.]

Because there was a schedule, he didn’t have a moment to waste. Ark immediately went to the general store and sold off all the Wolf leathers he had saved. Then he swallowed his tears and bought one recovery potion.

Until now, his spirit had somehow endured, but with the demon Mouse, he couldn’t spare money in facing it. This time, with his death he had lost 6 stats. Though he would probably be able to restore his stats killing the Mice in the cave, he didn’t have the time to waste on this again.

The price for a health potion that restores 100 life was a staggering 5 gold. Thanks to his intimacy, he only had to pay 3 gold and 50 silvers. The fortune he had accumulated bit by bit like a diligent ant was one fifth gone.

‘If I add the equipment repair fee to this….’

Automatically, he puffed out a sigh. However, Ark was resolute.

This was an investment. If he could get just one decent treasure from within the cave, even that would compensate for everything. For the last time, Ark had his rusted sword and leather clothes repaired at the blacksmith and set off for the cave again.

Back to top

Chapter 4 : Desperate Struggle with the Demon Mouse

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


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

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

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

It was time to use his newly learned skill.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘W-What’s going on?’

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

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

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

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

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

After all, life was not that easy.

* * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Eeeek!”

A shriek burst out from within the warehouse.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hyun Woo watched the mouse with annoyed eyes and muttered.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

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

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

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

Grrrrrrrrr.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“How, how could this be….!”

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

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

‘Damn it, am I going to die again?’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Damn it!’

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

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

‘Damn, what kind of situation is this…’

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was Ark’s victory!

“Is, is this it?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

There was only a thick leather and a worn sword.

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

“Armor… this looks pretty useful, huh?”

Corroded Sword

Weapon Type

One-Handed Sword

Attack Damage

1~4

Durability

20/20

Weight

15

Usage Restriction

None

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

“I guess I can’t use this.”

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

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

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

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

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

– You have acquired a mysterious slate.

The quest information window popped up.

The Secret of the Mysterious Slate

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

Difficulty: F

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

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

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

* * *

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

Ark nodded grandly and showed him the leather.

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

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

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

– Your level has risen.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Mana consumption: 100

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

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

This was the definition of an opportunity.

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

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

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

“Take this as well.”
“What is that?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“It’s nothing. I’m leaving, then.”

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

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

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

The Smithy owner spoke with a boastful expression.

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

Black Bear Mouse Leather Armor (Enchanted)

Armor Type

Leather Armor

Defense

40

Durability

90/90

Weight

20

Usage Restriction

None

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

Option: Agility 2, Cold Resistance 20

 

Sharply Shining Sword (Enchanted)

Weapon Type

One-Handed Sword

Attack Damage

8~12

Durability

20/20

Weight

15

Usage Restriction

None

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

Option: Attack speed +5

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

However, those items were nothing more than displays.

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

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

Compared to the beginning, he had made great strides.

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

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

* * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What we want isn’t a person who properly enjoys the game. We want a person who can properly utilize and cunningly move forward in the game.”
“Isn’t it true that levels aren’t everything in new world?”

“Of course. But their level can indicate and judge their skill.”
“Well, that’s true.”

“If you want to properly furrow into a game, then you’ve got to be smart. It’s hard to say that a person who couldn’t even get to level 20 in twenty days has a good head. Erase them from the consideration list. And didn’t this one fake his resume?”

“Is he eliminated after all?”

“There’s no way we can read all 2000 reports each time they come in. We’ll need to thin them out in the process. Still, we don’t need to inform them of their disqualification right now. While we’re testing we need to be ‘fair’, after all. It’s bothersome if curs like him get scared and pull out.”

“I understand.”

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

* * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What is it?”
“That I can’t eat the mixed noodles (bibimgooksul) you make.”

[T/N: Mixed noodles is Korean spicy noodles.]

“You little… Saying such pointless words….”

“It’s the truth. That’s the only food I really want to eat. Although I tried to imitate it, the taste wasn’t right. So get better quickly and make it for me, please. Okay?”
“Alright. Okay.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[T/N: Wild ginseng, sansam, is very rare and precious. It is prized for its medicinal properties and can easily reach $500 per pound.]

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

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

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

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

Hyun Woo shook his head vigorously.

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

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

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

“Oppa, oppa!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[T/N: She is referring to DDR, Dance Dance Revolution, or something similar.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“He said it was New World, huh?”

Back to top

Chapter 5 : Viscount Haverstein’s Revenge

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


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 Skill Sword 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 Skill Nursing (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