Dark Gamers’ Conversation
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Lee Hyun connected to the Dark Gamers’ chat room. Information disclosure, questions, sales, and grade advancement were the main topics of the chat room.
In normal chat rooms, there were people who were there just to waste time, but Dark Gamers were different. Information about the activities of Kingdoms, professions, quest information, and other necessary info were exchanged in real time.
These conversations weren’t open to everyone. The rooms were available through the forums, which could only be accessed if their rank permitted it, so only a small fraction of Dark Gamers were allowed to share the information.
It was a basic skill to use chatting to uncover the secrets of other gamers.
|– Huni: Hurry, hurry, come in. Hyun-nim.|
|– Hyun: We meet again.|
|– Huni: Yes, nice to see you.|
|– Wicked Me: This is my first time meeting you, Hyun-nim.|
There were about 7 users in the chat room.
Aside from the people who were lurking beneath the surface, in actuality only Huni and Wicked Me were chatting.
|– Huni: Hyun-nim, you’ve been coming here only for a little bit late at night. What have you been doing lately?|
|– Hyun: I’ve just… I’ve been learning my profession’s skills.|
|– Huni: Profession skills are very important. Normally, you access the chat room and don’t say anything, but you also check the market prices of items, right?|
|– Hyun: Yes.|
|– Wicked Me: I also often do that too.|
|– Huni: All Dark Gamers are probably like that. It’s because there’s no job as busy as ours.|
It was crucial for Dark Gamers to regularly check on the item market prices, commissions, and hunting grounds. For the sake of earning money, not only effort, but information in itself was crucial.
Only Dark Gamers who went beyond other players, could purely enjoy their meetings.
|– Huni: I have been a Dark Gamer for 7 years. How long have you two sirs been Dark Gamers?|
|– Wicked Me: I’ve been one for three years. Well, two years actually.|
|– Huni: Then I suppose I’m your senior, though that doesn’t mean much. If it’s 2 years, then did you start Dark Gamer activities since the release of Royal Road?|
|– Wicked Me: That’s right. I started the same time Royal Road was released. Since I progressed faster than others, I was able to collect some money from the start.|
|– Huni: I envy you. What about you, Hyun-nim?|
|– Hyun: I’ve been a Dark Gamer in earnest for about one year.|
|– Huni: That’s incredible!|
|– Wicked Me: Is that true? If you can enter this rank’s chat room, you’re probably not on an ordinary level… And it’s not just level, but the quality of the information shared and your responses are important in determining your rank.|
|– Huni: One year is really surprising. Can you please tell me your secret?|
|– Hyun: I just worked really hard. And I started making money as a Dark Gamer way before then; it’s just that I registered a year ago.|
|– Wicked Me: As I thought, that’s how. It’s hard to be a Dark Gamer in Royal Road.|
|– Small Dragon: Nice to meet you. I see you’ve been having an interesting conversation while I was lurking. I’ve been a Dark Gamer for 6 years.|
The users who had been lurking joined the conversation and the chat room soon became hectic.
As they exchanged greetings and conversations started, the old text ascended quickly. In spite of that, the frenzy didn’t even last 10 minutes before calming down.
Users left to look for information they needed, or were taking a break while keeping the chat room open.
Lee Hyun also briefly went to look at different information and returned to find Huni and Wicked Me having a conversation.
|– Huni: Hyun-nim. Are you there?|
|– Hyun: Yes.|
|– Huni: Actually, this time there’s a quest I want to accomplish…. I’d like to consult the two of you.|
|– Wicked Me: What quest is that?|
|– Huni: First of all, please be understanding of me when I say that I won’t disclose details about the quest’s contents.|
|– Wicked Me: Of course.|
|– Hyun: I understand.|
|– Huni: Thank you for understanding. To be honest, I’ve been doing a quest that’s a little special.|
|– Wicked Me: Is it a dangerous quest?|
|– Huni: You could say that. It also has a high degree of difficulty… The quest prevents you from ever reviving again.|
|– Wicked Me: I don’t understand what you said about not reviving. What does that mean?|
|– Hyun: The character would completely die in Royal Road, right?|
|– Huni: Yes. Thats right.|
The complete death of a character.
It was something that could happen if you learned a forbidden magic, or if gave your soul for some reason or another. It was standard for Dark Gamers to refuse these kinds of requests. Curses that were difficult to cure could somehow be resolved after a time, but if your character disappeared, you have to start again from the very beginning.
After his profession was changed to Legendary Moonlight Sculptor, he had initially been very dissatisfied, but the reason he gave up on raising another profession was because it was hard to start over.
|– Hyun: How did you come about that quest?|
|– Huni: I was with the guild I manage, it was a quest we got as a guild.|
|– Wicked Me: If you’re managing a guild, you must have quite an exceptional character; that’s quite regretful.|
|– Huni: Yes. Now I’m feeling a little regretful. I wonder if I started something too excessive because of my friends and guild mates, but the rewards that can be obtained through the quest are considerable.|
|– Wicked Me: As a Dark Gamer, is it worth starting over?|
|– Huni: I’ll have to see how the quest progresses, but right now I think it’s worth challenging. Even if we aren’t able to clear the quest, we accepted it because we can hope for such a huge reward.|
|-Wicked Me: If it were me, I’d worry first. Even so, to raise another character is going to be tough.|
|– Huni: In my 7 years of being a Dark Gamer, I think this is the biggest opportunity and challenge yet. Since there’s some money I’ve earned, even if I die I’ll probably be able to start over.|
If you read in between the lines, you could feel that the Dark Gamer Huni was trying to force himself to be positive about his situation.
For a Dark Gamer, losing their character was the same as becoming unemployed!
To be unable to expect employment insurance and unemployment pension, if you considered such disaster, you would only become anxious. If Lee Hyun was also in a situation where his character Weed might be permanently deleted, his anxiety would be too great to express in words.
‘I haven’t made enough money yet!’
Perhaps because the all work he had done would have been a waste, so he didn’t think he would be able to accept a quest like that.
He’d have no choice but to suffer from an extremely severe apprehension. In real life, Grandma’s hospital bills and their living expenses would be threatened by this approaching menace. Though Huni might have saved up a little spare money, that alone would not assure him, for this was something that could very possibly ruin a Dark Gamer’s life.
If you died while hunting, your level and skill proficiency would drop, and if such an incident were to occur again and again, it would be an unfathomably devastating blow to a Dark Gamer.
|– Wicked Me: I hope you receive a lot of items. The items are what’s left.|
|– Huni: Of course. All the items we obtained on the quest are gathered separately, and are being sold. However, when I imagine the character I raised and very attached to, completely disappearing… It’s not something that will happen right away, but my chest really hurts thinking about it.|
|– Hyun: You must worry a lot.|
|– Huni: There’s nothing I can do but to move forward.|
|– Hyun: Since you have experience, you’ll be able to grow again, and the quest…|
Lee Hyun’s hand, which had been clacking on the keyboard, suddenly came to a halt.
Though it was just a speculation, even if those kinds of quests were to be successful, because of the ridiculous chance for a character to be deleted, there was no one who would be willing to accept such quests.
But the Dark Gamer Huni was even considering death.
‘It seems like he has received a truly difficult quest.’
He guessed it would be much harder to succeed in this quest than to find a needle in a haystack.
|– Hyun: I pray for your success. Those words are all I can offer.|
|– Huni: Thank you. I’ll do my best. I needed some reassurance.|
|– Wicked Me: It’s really heartwarming to see you two talk.|
|– Huni: Wicked Me-nim, Hyun-nim. Shall we be friends? Although I don’t know how old you are or where you live, I don’t think it’ll be bad to get along as friends in the Dark Gamer chatting room.|
|– Hyun: I’d like that as well.|
|– Huni: I will introduce myself first. I’m twenty-eight years old.|
|– Hyun: I’m twenty-three years old.|
|– Huni: Hyun is like my younger sibling then.|
|– Hyun: Yes, elder brother. Please speak informally.|
|-Huni: Do you mind? Then Wicked Me-nim, how old are you?|
|– Wicked Me: Elder brothers! I am 15 years old. I’m the youngest. My two elder brothers, please take care of your cute brother.|
|– Huni: …|
|– Hyun: …|
|– Huni: Hey Me.|
|– Wicked Me: Yep!|
|– Huni: It’s already 11. You’d better go to bed.|
|– Wicked Me: Ah! Is that the time already. It’s nearly time for my mom to come home soon… I guess I’ll pretend to study and go to sleep. Goodbye.|
|– Hyun: …|
* * *
Lee Hyun’s school life went by busily. Even if he barely passed the tests, the assignments kept coming.
Tests and challenges concerning Royal Road.
Because of those, Choe Sang Jun and Park Soon Jo were to gather information about the dungeons, and the preparations were quickly underway.
“Hyung, just come when you can, and all you need to do is show us your sculptures.”
Choe Sang Jun said generously.
In any case, because it was a team assignment, Lee Hyun had to participate too, but not much was expected from a Sculptor. Hyun would show them his sculptures, and if Choe Sang Jun and his team mates acted as if they were deeply moved, he calculated that the professor would give them points.
‘If a team that includes a Sculptor is able to explore a difficult dungeon, that can be seen as a huge success.’
Choe Sang Jun was determined to use the dungeon exploration as a way to stand out. His brother, who was a high ranking player in the Black Lion Guild, lent him an item and was helping him raise his level.
But the one who worried him most was Park Soon Jo, the Thief!
‘Thieves aren’t as useful in dungeons as you’d think. Although it’s not bad to have 1 Thief to help me out. That’s right, I should be happy about it.’
Even if a Thief were to help out, all they could do were dismantle traps and opening doors, anyway.
For the sake of the dungeon exploration, the team held meetings at lunch without Lee Hyun.
While eating her sandwich in the school cafeteria, Min Sora asked a question.
“But you guys, who are the other 2 people going to be for our team? Everyone’s excited and it’s getting hectic, but we have to decide and get ready in advance.”
There were currently 5 people in their team C !
It was time to recruit the 2 people required.
Choe Sang Jun was also extremely interested in the new team members.
For him to stand out the most, the other team member can’t be too outstanding. However, he wanted to bring in a team member who could be at least somewhat useful.
‘It’d be good to have a Cleric or a Shaman… Who still hasn’t decided on a team yet? Do we have to pull out a guy from another team?’
It happened as he was making up his mind. Ju Eun Hee and Hong Sun Ye, who had been in his MT (Membership Training) team, were approaching him.
“Hey, we haven’t decided on our group yet either, can we do it together?”
Choe Sang Jun rejoiced and asked.
“What’s your class and level?”
“Elemental Magician. Level 266. Current position is in Dale Kingdom.”
“I’m a Ranger. Level 285. I’m at Nekan Castle. I’m hunting with Eun Hee.”
A Magician associated with elements and a Ranger.
It was far from the Cleric and Shaman Choe Sang Jun had wanted.
“Let’s do it together!”
Despite that, Choe Sang Jun kept a smile on his face.
Women were always welcome. Particularly Ju Eun Hee and Hong Sun Ye, whose pretty faces and bodies caught the eyes of many guys in their department.
‘Eun Hee is really very pretty.’
Choe Sang Jun had no reason to refuse the ideal Eun-hee.
Ju Eun Hee beamed so brightly her dimples came out.
“Really? I’m grateful, Choe Sang Jun.”
With a pitiful look, Lee Yoo Jung spoke to Choe Sang Jun after watching him.
“If you’re in Dale Kingdom… We’re also in Dale Kingdom right now. Nekan Castle is only a day away.”
“Yoo Jung, what’s your level?”
“Swordsman, 237. Sora, here, is an Enchanter. She’s 144.”
“I-is that so?”
Ju Eun Hee and Hong Sun Ye’s discontented expressions were obvious.
It was because the Swordsman’s level was too low, and Enchanters weren’t very useful in dungeons.
Perhaps because she sensed their discomfort, Min Sora asked.
“Is it really okay to be in the same group as us?”
“Yeah. Well, it’ll be okay. But you know…”
Hong Sun Ye asked while blushing slightly.
“Why isn’t Lee Hyun oppa here? Isn’t Lee Hyun oppa in your group?”
“Oppa doesn’t participate in the meetings.”
“He said he’s busy. And ‘cause he’s a sculptor, we don’t need him for the exploration.”
“You two. You really decided to join our group, right?”
“You’re, you’re right.”
Somehow, they had gotten into a situation where they couldn’t refuse and ended up joining. However, once they learned the levels and professions of the other players, everyone could feel their reluctance.
‘This is the worst…’
‘For me to be in a group like this…’
‘I messed up.’
‘I’ll retake it later.’
* * *
At lunchtime, Lee Hyun went to the grass plaza to eat his packed lunch.
‘It’s here today as well.’
A girl’s red lunch box.
Since about ten days ago, there was a red lunch box at the place where Lee Hyun regularly ate. Of course he did not touch the lunch box.
‘It’s someone else’s lunch.’
He thought that the owner might come looking for it, so he didn’t open the lunch box.
The next day, the lunch box was placed in the same position. However, this time, there was a yellow lunch box was wrapped in a white handkerchief. There was even a note left on top.
|– Please eat me.|
Sophisticated and beautiful handwriting.
Lee Hyun muttered while looking at the lunch box.
‘I don’t know who it’s for, but I envy them.’
The lunch box can be called the flower of love!
‘Traditionally, there’s nothing better to eat than that. How happy must that guy be, to have such a girlfriend. He’s even getting free food.’
Lee Hyun laughed lonesomely and ate the lunch he’d brought himself.
He thought for sure that some guy other than himself would come and eat that lunch box.
He, who had never dated before, would never have believed that lunch box was for him.
The next day.
|– Lee Hyun, please eat this packed lunch.|
The message, which was a little longer and more detailed, was written beautifully.
Perhaps because the sender was tense, the text was firmly indented in the paper, but Lee Hyun didn’t notice this.
“It was my lunch!”
He knelt to open the lunch box.
It was packed to the brim with sushi rolls!
“Korean sushi rolls, of all things.”
Lee Hyun complained.
The food he always packed for school was sushi rolls. He brought them because they were simple and not very time-consuming to make, but that didn’t mean he didn’t want to eat something different.
“Well, even sushi rolls are okay as long as they taste good.”
Lee Hyun tried 1 of the sushi rolls.
There was a harmony of evocative flavors bursting in his mouth.
A taste that could not be described by words!
The radish, imitation crab, and spinach she’d used were already in a different dimension from regular ingredients.
The faint sheen from the side of the rolls was from sturgeon eggs and plump lobster leg meat!
Lee Hyun was knowledgeable in cooking, but he had never seen these ingredients.
“The pollack eggs are fresh. And what in the world is this imitation crab that tastes so good?”
They were the best luxury sushi rolls!
After Lee Hyun ate the delicious sushi rolls, he left a note in the empty lunch box.
|– This time as well…|
He had left the note while harbouring a faint hope.
The next day when he went to the grassy area, there was another lunch box.
|– Thank you for enjoying it. Please eat some today too.|
Lee Hyun opened the lunch box lid.
They were korean sushi rolls today too, but today’s fillings were shark fin, eel, and salmon. There was even fresh fruit salad for dessert.
From that day on, Lee Hyun went to school without packing his lunch. Even if he didn’t pack a lunch, there was always food waiting for him.
As Lee Hyun ate, Seoyoon watched from a distance.
Every time he ate happily, she felt full, even if she hadn’t eaten.
Her precious friend, the only one she had in the world.
Seoyoon was thankful for him just eating it.
Due to her lack of cooking skills, her first batch of Korean sushi rolls had torn sides and their fillings protruded out. To pack delicious sushi rolls, she learned from five-star hotel chefs.
As Seoyoon watched Lee Hyun eat joyfully, she blushed. It was the sight of a goddess being shy.
* * *
In order to restore the art stats that had been consumed, Weed began working in Kuruso.
‘The fastest way to get art stats is through making handicrafts.’
A successful sculpture could earn him a lot of art stats.
Though it was a simple method in theory, the probability of success was low.
Since there was a limit to the techniques Weed could express with imagination, continuously making a successful sculpture was difficult.
Comparatively, jewelry handicrafts raised the art stat by 1 or 2 points, so it was good for replenishing. Although it took 10 works to raise the stat once, he had the perfect aptitude for doing these kinds of depressing jobs.
“The law is that grinding doesn’t lie. There’s nothing I’m more thankful to than grinding.”
In addition, videos of Kendellev’s Water Park for Children were being uploaded in Royal Road forums. Dwarven users had competitively put up their videos as quickly as they could.
Until then, Kuruso had existed so secretly that even amongst the Dwarves, there were only a few people who knew of it. However, after images of Dwarves enjoying the water park were published, the veil of secrecy was torn off.
As the number of interested people grew, the path to Kuruso was published and done with.
“WOW! This is the Dwarven Kingdom.”
More Humans and Elves came and found it, and the number of users in Kuruso increased by over 5-fold.
The sculptures of the newcomer Dwarves!
The sculptures they had acquired from above ground through one quest or another found their way to Weed.
“Art Hand-nim, I heard you can evaluate sculptures.”
“Yeah. Although I don’t do this for just any object… But since I have some time, I’ll appraise it for you.”
Even in Kuruso, where the best craftsmen had gathered, Art Hand was the most outstanding Sculptor.
The Battle in Shaspin Cave, and the victory against Death Hand!
There were Dwarven Soldiers and Warriors who gabbered in the taverns about the sculpting quests that had occurred in Kuruso, and Art Hand’s legend reached the ears of the newcomers through their gossip.
Weed, who was passing himself off as Art Hand, was gathering sculptures.
|– The Repentant Bird
A clay pigeon meditating on one leg.
Although this is sculpture made with a remarkably polished skill and is a superior depiction, the meaning intended for this sculpture cannot be discerned.
Artistic Value: 30
|– You have appreciated this work and your Art stat has risen by 1.|
To gain Art stats through identification!
Whether they were drawings, famous swords, or even legendary armor dressers, they earned him a little Art stat.
‘The Art stat seems to be different from the other stats.’
Whenever he made a living sculpture or used a skill, the Art stat was consumed. However, when he was raising it again, there was a force of restoration, that gave him the feeling that the stat was a little easier to raise than others.
Albeit challenging to regain the Art stat by identifying sculptures alone, his Art stats rose twice as fast after he activated Eternal Sculpture.
[T/N: Weed is talking about the title he’s using.]
Even just by sewing with good material, his Art stat would rise. When he made anything from Blacksmithing, Art stats also increased.
‘Still, it’s not a method I can use often.’
As indicated by its name, restoring force really recovered stats quickly!
If he only consumed the Art stat and didn’t rebuild it, he wouldn’t be able to reach a higher level.
In order to restore his Art stat, Weed met with a lot of Dwarves in Kuruso.
“Art Hand, would you like a beer? I’m buying.”
“Have you perhaps joined a guild?”
There were guilds that approached him to recruit a sculptor.
Weed refused them each time.
One day, Herman who was watching the scene, said in a courteous tone.
“It would be nice if you joined our guild. Production class, eh! Though you aren’t in a production profession. Anyway, for people like us, who have crafting professions, it’s comfortable to be in a guild.”
“I know that too.”
“Then is there a special reason why you are not in a guild?”
He was caught with remorse over the fact that he was a Dark Gamer. Even when he was playing the Continent of Magic, he had always acted alone, so getting fenced in by a guild was a burden for him.
Herman’s eyes twinkled as he laughed.
“You seem to have circumstances you can’t talk about. But just because you’re in a guild doesn’t mean everyone is going to want to know your life story.”
“You don’t have to say anything you don’t want others to know, just act comfortably. And if you don’t like the guild, can’t you just leave it?”
“That may be so, but…”
“When you’re my age, the biggest regret is not having tried many different things in your youth. Can’t you regret it after you’ve tried? It’s not healthy to worry too much when you’re young.”
‘If there’s a guild I can move comfortably in, then I suppose it wouldn’t be bad to try joining.’
In many ways, he might become the odd man out, but he found no reason to avoid the concept of guilds.
Even the Elder SwordNoobs didn’t make a guild and act within in it, though they were getting so famous in Rosenheim Kingdom that they might be forced to do so.
‘Though I shouldn’t need to join the Instructor’s guild.’
He was on close terms with the Elder SwordNoobs, and he also saw their faces every day. They were also registered as his friends, so he spoke with them often. There was no need to join a guild made by the SwordNoobs.
As if sensing Weed’s indecisiveness, Herman spoke up.
“Have you heard about the Travelers of the Wilderness Guild, by any chance?”
“I haven’t heard of it.”
“It’s the guild I’m in. Quite often, we hunt without speaking, and there are also those who only go on adventures…. It’s a guild made of willful people.”
“How many people are in it?”
“About twenty-five? The activity rate is on the high side. As for the age group…. There are old people like me, and there are many in their 20s, 30s, and 40s. We are not affiliated with any Kingdom, and there aren’t any initiation rites, so it’ll be easy to join. Why don’t you join our guild?”
“And if it becomes uncomfortable for me?”
“Then you can just leave.”
Weed felt that Herman’s proposal was acceptable.
‘They won’t bother me about this and that for being a Sculptor.’
Most of the guilds that tried to recruit Weed approached him knowing that he was a sculptor.
A sculpture for their guild.
That was their motivation for inviting him to a guild. It seemed that nothing of that sort would happen in Herman’s guild.
“Alright. How do I join?”
“I can invite you. It’s a privilege given to all members who has been part of the guild for over a year.”
|– Herman has invited you to the Travelers of the Wilderness guild.|
|Do you want to accept this invitation?|
Guilds that are at war or are hostile with other guilds make players reluctant to join, but if the guild is neutral, there is nothing to lose.
|– You have joined the Travelers of the Wilderness guild.|
Just then, the new guild popped up in Weed’s message window.
|– Sabrina: Welcome to the guild, new member!|
|– Pin: Welcome.|
|– Edwin: It’s a pleasure to meet you.|
A guild that welcomed its new member!
Looking at the guild member list, there were 24 people on out of 26, including Weed.
Though you could say the activity was on an extreme level, since there were only 3 people who welcomed him.
|– Weed: Hello, I’m Weed. To all the guild members, nice to meet you.|
|– Herman: It seems that other people are busy hunting or doing quests. In our guild, there are a lot of people who completely turn off their guild messages. So if there’s something you need, you’ll need to register them personally as friends and talk to them that way.|
|– Weed: I understand.|
|– Pin: But Herman grandpa, didn’t you say Art Hand-nim was joining too?|
|– Herman: What are you saying? The one who joined just now is Art Hand.|
|– Pin: No way. The one who joined is Weed. Please check it, grandpa.|
|– Herman: There’s no way I’m wrong. I invited Art Hand when I was personally raising my hand towards him….. Huh, how did this happen? As Pin said, the one who joined is really Weed.|
As soon as Weed joined, he immediately set his level and profession to hidden.
He didn’t want to be too friendly with this guild yet. He was reluctant to expose himself to a guild whose members he didn’t know.
However, his name was seen as is.
|– Weed: I am that Art Hand.|
|– Herman: Are you really that Dwarven sculptor Art Hand?|
|-Weed: Yes. But I’m not a Dwarf.|
|– Herman: You’re not a Dwarf?|
|– Weed: Due to circumstances, as of now I’m pretending to be a Dwarf.|
|– Pin: Art Hand, it’s good to see you, but what do you mean, you’re not a Dwarf? You’re a perfectly short Dwarf… Ack! I’m really sorry for saying Dwarves are short. Anyways, are you not the same race as Herman grandpa?|
|– Weed: I’m not.|
|– Pin: Then what is your original race?|
|– Weed: Human.|
Herman, who was blankly standing next to Weed, suddenly realized something.
The incredible sculptures Weed made and the sight of him doing the Sculptor quests, and the time when he made the Wings of Light.
There was a thought glancing through Herman’s mind.
|– Herman: A Human as well as the sculptor Weed…. No way, the Lord of Morata?|
|– Weed: That’s me.|