"Five minutes left!"
Eight of the top-ranked players were gathered in one place on the 4th floor of Cork Island's dungeon. The highest-ranked among them was Peak Sword, who was 16th on the overall unified rankings. Behind them were 200 elite members of the Silver Knights Guild.
It was a spectacular sight of a gathering of users with the combined power to capture a small fortress. But tension and anxiety filled everyone's faces.
"Four minutes left!"
As time counted down, the nervousness of the guild members reached the peak. They were restlessly shaking their legs and biting their nails. Peak Sword gazed around with dark eyes, the hands holding his sword soaked with sweat.
'I can't calm down.'
Cork Island's dungeon was fully controlled by the Silver Knights Guild, and the boss monster, Hell Gao, appeared on the 4th floor every two weeks. However, Hell Gao was stronger than expected and had a variety of patterns, so they had been unable to succeed in any of their five attempts so far.
Peak Sword and the elites of the Silver Knights strengthened their items with money during the last month, all with the intention of succeeding next time. They were definitely stronger after all the investments, but those who knew Hell Gao's power couldn't feel any confidence.
"Three minutes left!"
After three minutes, Hell Gao would appear and this place would turn into a sea of fire. Some of them would even die from just the flames.
"Two minutes left!"
A wave heat started to slowly permeate throughout the room.
Peak Sword wanted to encourage everyone, but he was afraid. He was clearly reminded of the overwhelming appearance of Hell Gao, the staff-wielding boss monster enshrouded in flames.
'Are we still lacking the power to defeat him?'
It might be different if the power of the top 10 rankers were added, but he couldn't help thinking that this expedition would fail with their current strength. However, the guild's best ranker couldn't show his weakness, so Peak Sword endured it.
'Do it. We can do it. We are strong!'
Peak Sword steadied his heart and took various buffing potions, with the others following him. It was at that moment.
"One minute left…eh? Intruder! There is an intruder!!"
All of the guild members' eyes headed towards the entrance. A young man had entered. It was unusual because he was covered by a cloak, with no armor or weapons visible.
'Did he break through the defensive troops downstairs?'
Was it a highly trained assassin? No, an assassin wouldn't openly reveal their presence in a place like this. Peak Sword pondered on the name above the head of the black-haired youth. However, no matter how much he looked through his memory, it was an unfamiliar name.
'He isn't a ranker?'
Peak Sword glanced at his companions, but they all shook their heads.
'A non-ranker coming all the way here. Pathetic.'
Peak Sword came to this conclusion and warned the youth with a frown,
"This is an area controlled by the Silver Knights Guild. I don't know how you managed to reach this point, but if you don't want to die, go back."
"My stealth suddenly disappeared. Was it because I was detected by Hell Gao?"
The young man ignored Peak Sword's warning and threw off his cloak as he talked to himself.
There were exclamations from every direction. The appearance of armor rapidly being equipped on the body of the youth was quite cool. Despite being made of metal, it seemed to be custom fit for the wearer, and its smooth surface was so reflective it was like a mirror. It was an elegant blend of red, black and gold. The particularly unique point was the one-meter long tail that stretched from the vicinity of the tail bone. It was sharp like a blade, and amazingly moving on its own.
"W-What, that armor?'
"It's terrific… Unique grade?"
It was the first time they had seen such armor, so the guild members struggled to hide their interest.
Peak Sword raised his voice, "That isn't important right now! Why aren't you throwing him out right now?"
Hell Gao would soon appear and then nobody would be able to escape from the dungeon. They had to deal with the outsider before that. The moment that the guild members interested in the armor tried to carry out Peak Sword's order,
[Hell Gao, the owner of Hellfire, has appeared.]
[Hell Gao's roar has applied fear, chaos, and debilitating effects.]
[Hell Gao's fire reduces heat resistance by 50%.]
[Fire pillars have risen to cover you.]
Due to the silent flames that surrounded the whole body, half of the guild members either fell into a dying state or burned to the point where they couldn't even be recognized. Barely half of the people standing were able to hang on.
Peak Sword was surprised at the notification window that popped up.
'I raised my fire resistance to 86%, but to still receive this degree of damage…!'
They would fail again. As Peak Sword was feeling despair, he suddenly doubted his eyes. The unknown young man. While the others were surrounded by flames, he alone was moving forward, moving freely like he wasn't affected.
Peak Sword fell silent as he witnessed a ridiculous scene. As Hell Gao ran amok and slaughtered the guild members, the young man pulled out a pickaxe, headed to the wall… and started swinging the pickaxe?
The young man swung it with good form and complained as he wiped off the sweat,
"Ugh, hot! Isn't the labor getting worse? Why does the mineral only appear when the boss mob is present? Based on this, I might have to visit a dragon's lair with my pickaxe!"
At that moment, a hot wind emerged from the staff that Hell Gao waved and hit the young man. Peak Sword expected the young man to receive huge damage and collapse. But unbelievably, the young man only suffered minor injuries.
"Excuse me, Mister." The youth stopped his pickaxe for the first time and turned his attention to Peak Sword. He said with an irate expression, "Why are you just standing there blankly? It's hot now, but it will only just get hotter."
What was he seeing now? Peak Sword belatedly regained his spirit and asked, "How can you be fine?"
The young man replied like it was obvious, "It's the item effect."
The tail on the young man's armor moved by itself and fought against Hell Gao's staff. Peak Sword couldn't close his mouth as he gaped at the unbelievable sight.
After entering the 'Northern End Cave' at the end of a three months journey, I was able to witness the overwhelming sight of all types of battle gear piled up like a mountain.
"Wow, what is this?"
The names of the brilliant battle gear were in a colorful mix of green, yellow, and purple. If I took only a few of these, I would become a rich man! I wanted to take all the battle gear, but it was impossible.
[This item can't be obtained.]
"How stingy and dirty."
Items that couldn't be acquired despite them being right in front of me! When I put it in my bag, it would return to its original spot like a mirage. This situation was like that of a pie in the sky, or a woman already being married. No, a married woman was still different from a pie in the sky, as one could still obtain a married woman if one tried enough.
In the end, I could only stare at the items with longing and regret.
'Indeed… If a user could obtain all of these, Satisfy's economic balance might crumble. Unfortunately, I understand.'
I didn't come here for the battle gear in the first place. I soothed my mind and turned my attention away from the pile of battle gear. There was an old book placed on a shiny gold table.
All the hardships I experienced while coming here passed through my mind. Laughter emerged as my nose became runny and tears dripped down. Thank goodness I had patience and tenacity, otherwise, I would've quit the game because of the terrible difficulty of the quest. I felt great pride at the thought of clearing this quest.
"Kukuk…puhahahat!! I finally found it!! Oh, yehhhhhh!"
A damn S-grade quest that was impossible to give up! Incidentally, how many deaths have I experienced before on this solo quest? How many items were destroyed due to no durability?!
A human blacksmith who transcended the skills of a dwarf, Pagma achieved the culmination of god-like techniques!
The face of Earl Ashur, who made me visit one of the Eternal Kingdom's five forbidden zones, popped into my head.
"If I bring this to him, I can get the Sun Sword? Once I get it, no one can match me for the rest of my life, you bastards! I will make you pay for hitting me!"
Pleasure surged like a tide as I picked up the book.
[You have acquired the legendary craftsman's rare book!]
[It isn't in a proper state. You can check the details using the Eye of Pallalian.]
[Do you want to use the Eye of Pallalian?]
"Eye of Pallalian? A high-end appraisal item is needed to check the item?"
Eye of Pallalian was the most expensive among the existing appraisal items. Six months ago, I had bought it just in case I got a jackpot, but sadly, I couldn't use it and it was left in my inventory.
"I don't want to miss a golden opportunity…"
I put the appraisal on hold and examined the golden table. I wondered if there was a way to take this gold away, but it wouldn't budge. Kicking, pulling and even biting it was useless. It was an item like the battle gear that users couldn't own.
"Ah, I really can't salvage anything because of this effective system. The price of my three months of work is very high."
I gazed at the book in my hand.
'I have to give Ashur the item so do I really need to use an expensive item to appraise it?'
I struggled for a moment before pulling out the Eye of Pallalian. It was natural to wonder about the source of my three months suffering.
[Pagma's Rare Book]
This is a book that contains the techniques of Pagma, the blacksmith who transcended human limits. The person who opens the book can become a legendary blacksmith.
Effects: Become Pagma's descendant.
* The level and stats will change when used.
[A legendary item has been found!]
[Reputation will rise by 500 across the continent.]
My body started trembling.
It was a legendary item! My reputation rose by 500 across the continent just because I discovered it! It was an amazing harvest, given that it was difficult to raise reputation by 100 just in one city.
'Reputation is reputation, but…'
I wondered if I had seen it wrongly and read the item description again. However, there was no change in the contents.
I wasn't hallucinating. I was extremely excited and could hear my heart beating wildly. I thought it was just a skill book but it was actually for a class change? Furthermore, it was legendary grade! This meant it was the strongest class in the world!
"Moreover, there is no condition to use…"
Tears flowed down from my eyes. During the past year, I had to pay the interest on my loan, my Satisfy account, and I also took a leave of absence from school. My friends left me one by one, the alumni of my school laughed at me, people thought I was lazy…
My original plan was to sell the items I gained during the game and turn it into cash so that I could pay off my loan, my account, and my tuition. However, Satisfy wasn't such a fair world. It was hard to earn money and I could barely obtain equipment for myself, let alone ones I could sell.
But now it was different. A thrill went through my body as I shivered.
"It is over… I can say farewell to this nightmarish life!"
A legendary class change item! If I register it as an auction item on the item trading site, it was clear that the transaction price would be worth tens of millions of won.
No, it was an item that gave the best class among two billion users, so would it only be worth tens of millions of won? I could be sure that it was worth at least hundreds of millions of won. I might be able to get my hands on an astronomical amount that I never imagined!
"Puhahahahat!! Mother! Father! This freeloader finally made it! Now it's time to leave the game and forget about finding employment! My parents can quit feeling ashamed of their son in front of the neighbors! Sehee! Oppa finally did it! Now you don't have to be embarrassed every time you meet me on the street! When my friends want to come and play at my house, I don't have to refuse and make all sorts of excuses! And my friends! Alumni! They can't ignore me anymore as a pathetic game loser! I will become a success with a game! I have taken a few steps ahead of you guys in the society! Puhahahat!!"
I paid 10 million won to purchase a capsule, and my loan interest rose by hundreds of thousands of won every month.
'Ahyoung is still pretty…'
I imagined attending my high school alumni meeting for the first time in two years in a foreign car. The successful alumni wouldn't be able to ignore me anymore. Then I blushed as the face of my first love, Ahyoung, came to mind.
"Okay, go and sell it!"
Quest? I didn't care about that right now. Obviously, while the reward was a weapon that belonged to the epic rating, it was nothing in comparison to the price of this book. My affinity with Earl Ashur would fall and would probably end up with me not receiving any more quests from him. But there was no reason to be afraid in front of hundreds of millions of won.
I confidently exclaimed. Then a notification window flashed in front of my eyes.
[You can't log out of the game here.]
[Earl Ashur has appeared.]
Dozens of knights jumped into the cave as I was struggling to understand. Then the familiar Earl Ashur appeared. I panicked as he found me and his face distorted.
"Foolish traveler, you all have the same greed."
[The quest 'Earl Ashur's Secret Request' (S) has changed to 'Earl Ashur's Anger' (SS).]
[Earl Ashur's Anger]
Difficulty Level: SS
Earl Ashur chose you due to your average abilities, your stupidity and because you are easy to exploit. He entrusted you with the task of finding Pagma's rare book that he wasn't even sure existed.
He put a watcher on you and came urgently as soon as he heard that you entered the 'Northern End Cave'. Earl Ashur has witnessed you become blinded by greed over Pagma's rare book and has no intention of forgiving you. He intends to kill you and take away Pagma's rare book.
* Affinity with Earl Ashur has fallen by 100.
* Due to your actions, all of the fame you have built in Patrian has disappeared and you have now become infamous. The affinity of Patrian's residents has fallen by 40. They will look at you and call you a thief.
Quest Clear Conditions: The deaths of Earl Ashur and his escort knights.
Clear Reward: Obtain the title 'Noble Killer.'
* Noble Killer: Intelligence -50.
All nobles in the kingdom will despise and oppress you. Your jobs will be limited. The affinity of some commoners and royalty will rise.
Quest Failure: Level -2.
You will no longer be able to enter Patrian.
Any Patrian soldiers will kill you on sight.]
Patrian was the starter city where I first created my character. I built up a considerable amount of reputation while completing quests in Patrian from level 1 to the present, and my affinity with the residents was at its maximum.
All merchants gave me a 20% discount when buying goods, and the goods I sold were purchased at 15% above their value. There were residents who gave me hidden quests when I approached them. But all these achievements automatically flew away the moment this quest updated.
"…Ah, I. This is shit."
A curse naturally emerged.
"Earl Ashur… no, you bastard! This goddamn bastard forced me onto a quest where I wasn't sure if I could find the item or not!! If Pagma's rare book was something that didn't exist, I would've struggled for months in vain! You are the one who lied in the first place, yet you want to make me notorious in Patrian? Filthy jerk!"
As their master was cursed at, the hot-headed knights immediately pulled out their swords. Earl Ashur restrained them and spoke coldly to me,"You had already decided to betray me before you knew you were deceived. Even so, you are still acting so proudly."
"Is it greedy to want a reasonable reward after the hardships of my journey? My betrayal wasn't certain!"
He sneered at my words.
"Didn't I already promise to give you a reward in return? We entered into a contract and you have trespassed on my good faith out of greed."
This wasn't something that I could handle with words. As I fell mute, Earl Ashur's momentum increased as he continued to chatter,
"You are truly a poor man. The more I watched, the more I could feel it. But there are times when you can do extraordinary things, as I honestly hadn't expected you to find this cave that had disappeared from history. I will punish you for your ignorance, but as reward for your patience, I will kill you as painlessly as possible."
Throughout this Light Novel I will fix any mistakes to help you guys enjoy reading it!
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