Episode 3: Age of Ghosts / Chapter 36: Break Time (4)
[T/N: I made a mistake last chapter, conquer -> colonize. It’s already been fixed on the previous chapter.]
Breakfast with the president.
Some were, depending on their tastes, scrapping the bottom of a bowl of pumpkin porridge, eating injeolmi or even drinking sujeonggwa.
A new announcement appeared.
[The Throne Game has completely ended now. King titles revoked. ‘1/3 Qualifications of the Sovereign obtainers’ are now ‘Leaders of Hundred’ and ‘2/3 Qualification of the Sovereign obtainers’ are now ‘Leaders of Ten Thousand’]
In a single stroke, the breakfast became disordered.
“Wow… What is this? Now it doesn’t sound as cool.”
A king, no, a Leader of Ten Thousand dejectedly mumbled to himself.
Choi Hyuk and the president, who could guess what was happening, exchanged meaningful looks.
The breakfast ended in confusion and the president asked Choi Hyuk to stay behind for a moment.
He confirmed the important information Karik had given them by comparing each other’s memories. This was also beneficial to Choi Hyuk as humans couldn’t completely remember everything.
“That mission, does it start tomorrow?”
“That is correct. We have to wait until tomorrow to know exactly what is going on. The position humans are in and their objective… even those things are unknown.”
The president nodded his head at Choi Hyuk’s words. Then he added,
“A report arrived before breakfast. It said that there is a portal leading to a land in Yeouido Park.”
Choi Hyuk was a bit surprised. The colonizing was a matter the Giant Orc Karik stressed on. It seemed that it had already been initiated.
‘A portal… What is behind it? Why do we have to colonize? How dangerous is it?’
As these lands he had only heard of really appeared, more specific questions crossed his mind.
The president stared hard at Choi Hyuk who was deep in his own thoughts and asked.
“Good luck on the mission. Are you planning on exploring the land?”
Choi Hyuk nodded his head.
“I probably have to. Considering Karik’s tone, it seems to be mandatory.”
The president nodded. Then he looked at him with desperate eyes.
“If you do explore… please give us some information about it. The only person I can lean on is Sovereign Choi Hyuk. I will do all I can to support you.”
There were only 39 sovereigns in the world. Among them, the only sovereign the president knew was Choi Hyuk as he was the only sovereign in Korea.
The president felt burdened by the risk of an unknown land that they had to colonize. So he hoped that Choi Hyuk would explore it first and give him some information. Of course, if that was the case, it meant that Choi Hyuk would have to take the risk himself.
Choi Hyuk felt that the president was a bit selfish. Colonizing a new land. An unknown land. No one knew how dangerous it would be.
Choi Hyuk accepted the president’s request. He had to colonize it anyways and Karik’s words implied that it would be impossible for sovereigns to cooperate with each other.
If he could receive the president’s support by doing something he already had to do, it wasn’t bad.
“Thank you. Thank you.”
Choi Hyuk shook hands with the happy president.
On his way back with Baek Seoin, Lee Jinhee appeared wearing a baseball cap. She had just come back from visiting her hometown.
“Are your parents okay?”
Baek Seoin asked carefully. Lee Jinhee pouted.
“They were soooo healthy. When I said I was going back to Seoul, they said they would break my legs.”
“Probably. Weren’t they frightened?”
“Well. It’s not something you can avoid because you want to.”
Lee Jinhee shrugged her shoulders. She then looked up at Choi Hyuk.
“Anyways… leader… I heard the news.”
Choi Hyuk looked at her. What did she hear? That he killed Song Simin’s group?
No. Looking at her careful expression, he knew what she had heard. She was talking about his mother’s death.
“… It just happened that way.”
Choi Hyuk slightly avoided her gaze and walked ahead. He didn’t want to show her his eyes. Since it was obvious they would look sad.
“Anyways, let’s gather for a moment. There’s a lot to discuss.”
Choi Hyuk walked ahead swinging his arms. Baek Seoin and Lee Jinhee followed behind him.
Choi Hyuk’s bedroom. Choi Hyuk sat on his bed, Baek Seoin brought a chair to sit on and Lee Jinhee sat down with her legs curled up on his desk.
“So 39 sovereigns… Consumables… And he said ‘Congratulations on passing the new recruit training’?”
Baek Seoin brooded over Choi Hyuk’s words.
“Right. It was exactly as Jung Minji predicted. They are trying to make us into an army.”
“Who are they? God?”
As if it made her blood run cold, she hugged herself.
Choi Hyuk smirked and changed the mood. It became serious.
“Anyways… you all know what my goal is?”
Getting revenge on them, Choi Hyuk didn’t explicitly say those words.
He felt that he shouldn’t. Though he didn’t think they were listening to each and every conversation… it wasn’t bad being careful and he was superstitious that if he spoke what he truly desired, it would muddle his pure heart. There was even a saying, ‘the Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao’.
Lee Jinhee let out a small shout.
Baek Seoin and Lee Jinhee both understood Choi Hyuk’s intentions.
‘So he’s planning on getting revenge on the ones who created this game!’
This was why Lee Jinhee let out a shout.
Choi Hyuk asked in a low voice.
“You can probably guess but this fight is going to be incomparably harder than the fight against the wyvern, that fake dragon. Think it through once more. Are you still going to follow me?”
He said this prepared that they would separate from him.
However, the two replied without hesitation.
“Didn’t I say that if you kill the wyvern I will serve you as my king? What follower leaves his king? And I have a grudge against them as well.”
Baek Seoin said while fixing his posture.
On the other hand, Lee Jinhee gently lowered her legs. She tightly clenched fists above her knees.
“As expected, hyung… I like that you think big.”
She had an expression that was a mixture of nervousness and excitement. She started calling him ‘leader’ when Baek Seoin nagged her by saying, ‘It’s fine that you’re close but still you need to call him by his official title. The leader is the leader, not a hyung,’ however, looking at how she reverted back to ‘hyung’, it seemed her heart was beating wildly.
He had sort of expected this. Choi Hyuk nodded his head.
“Good. Then, let’s examine the current situation…”
The three put their heads together and started to examine their current situation. First, he shared the traits of a sovereign.
- No limit to the number of followers.
- Able to have long-distance communication with followers.
- Able to increase designated followers’ stats by 10%. No use on followers with higher Retribution Points than you. (Current Retribution Points: 20 (★★★) Able to designate 102 followers)
- Right to colonize land.
- Right to use the supply store of the Flaming Wing Tribe. (Locked)
“They say that the kings who had 2/3 Qualifications to be a Sovereign had been demoted to ‘Leaders of Ten Thousand’ and the buff that increased their followers’ stats by 5% was removed. In other words, they were nerfed.”
Same with Choi Hyuk, the buff of the ‘King without Subjects’, ‘Increase followers’ stats by 20%’, had disappeared as well. Instead, he was now able to appoint 102 followers and increase their stats by 10% but this was also a nerf. It was a bit iffy since although he was now able to have an unlimited number of followers, he didn’t plan on increasing the number of followers right away, so it was a nerf.
Choi Hyuk asked Baek Seoin.
“Then is there no point for people to join ‘Leaders of Hundred’ or ‘Leaders of Ten Thousand’?”
“That’s not true. They say troops will receive their own missions. We don’t know exactly what mission it is; it will definitely be better to do it together than by themselves. Leaders of Hundred can create a troop with 99 members while the Leaders of Ten Thousand will be able to create troops with 9, 999 members. If we look at it like a game, then the Leaders of Hundred have the right to create a raid and Leaders of Ten Thousand have the right to create a guild. Also, since their members now have the ability to communicate over short distances… it looks like people will gather under Leaders of Hundred and Ten Thousand.”
Baek Seoin momentarily looked at Choi Hyuk before adding in.
“If there isn’t a sovereign.”
Then Lee Jinhee added.
“Leader! Aren’t we going to recruit others? I hear other people are like recruiting thousands of people!”
Choi Hyuk shook his head.
“Though we do need to, we can’t just accept anyone. First, they need to be trustworthy and have the same goals as us, meaning they need to be capable as well.”
At his words, Lee Jinhee seemed to become happier. She praised herself.
“Yeah, we are quite capable.”
Power: 0 (★★) Speed: 48 (+38) (★★) Control: 30 (+20) (★★)
Endurance: 36 (+36) (★★) Stamina: 41 (+36) (★★) Recovery: 26 (+20) (★★)
Retribution points: 37 (★★)
*Free karma points: 68
*Skill: [Speeding Blade] [High-Speed Breakaway]
Power: 40 (+30) (★★) Speed: 40 (+30) (★★) Control: 0 (★★)
Endurance: 64 (+54) (★★) Stamina: 23 (+18) (★★) Recovery: 18 (+18) (★★)
Retribution points: 49 (★★)
*Free karma points: 68
*Skill: [Iron Defense] [Instant Pierce]
Due to the points they earned from fighting the Wyvern of Destruction until the end, both Lee Jinhee and Baek Seoin were able to get all their stats to 2-star. The skills they obtained until now were outstanding as well. They were definitely the strongest among the survivors from Kangdong District, excluding Choi Hyuk of course.
That was why Lee Jinhee’s self-praise wasn’t an exaggeration.
But Choi Hyuk smiled bitterly and shook his head.
“You are capable but it’s still not enough. You need to get much stronger.”
Power: 103 (+76) (★★) Speed: 103 (+74) (★★) Control: 0 (3★)
Endurance: 0 (★★) Stamina: 0 (★★) Recovery: 0 (★★)
Retribution points: 20 (3★)
*Free karma points: 150
*Skill: [Soaring Slash]
Currently, Choi Hyuk was the only one who had upgraded his Retribution Points to 3-star.
It became harder the more he upgraded. The number of worthy opponents kept getting smaller but the points he needed to upgrade kept increasing.
He needed 100 points when he was no-star, 200 when he was 1-star and upgrading to 3-star needed 300 points.
Now to upgrade to 4-star, he needed 400 points. It was so far away.
However, Karik was at least a 5-star monster. However, even he wasn’t the strongest.
In his eyes, Baek Seoin and Lee Jinhee couldn’t help but be lacking. He thought he himself was lacking so what more did he need to say.
Flames spewed from his hand and a haze covered his hand. The only person who could manipulate his karma like this was Choi Hyuk.
“I realized something while fighting the wyvern. Karma is much more versatile than we thought. We need to study it properly.”
When the mission started, Choi Hyuk was planning on properly training Baek Seoin and Lee Jinhee.
“Ah, and… one person, there’s someone I thought about.”
Choi Hyuk who had a serious expression suddenly said as if he had just remembered it and then smiled mysteriously.
“A capable new recruit.”
There were many days where Chu Youngjin would just sit down with a blank expression. He skipped his meals for three days and only held a red sword at his chest as he stared up at the sky.
People murmured saying that he received a large shock when he heard Jung Minji had died.
However, he wasn’t really sad that Jung Minji had died. Sadness, he had used it all when his lover, Lee Hyejin, died.
Only… he had no clue what he would do from now on.
To him, Jung Minji was an excuse for him to continue to live.
‘She helped save Lee Hyejin and helped avenge her so I will do my best to help her. To return the favor.’ This was Chu Youngjin’s train of thought.
That was the only thing left that he could do that was related to Lee Hyejin in this world. However, Jung Minji was no longer here.
Perhaps it was because he had nothing to do but Chu Youngjin sat down and recalled Lee Hyejin hundreds of times each day. He would occasionally stroke the item that was created upon her death, the red sword.
As he stared blankly up at the sky, there was only one thought that came to his mind.
‘… Should I die?’
While he was doing this, Choi Hyuk came looking for him.
The hazy eyes of Chu Youngjin focused. This was the first time someone had come looking for him during the 3-day break. And on top of that, the person was Choi Hyuk. They had become quite close during their time in the suicide squad. It was also due to this that he was able to leave Kangdong District alive.
Chu Youngjin raised his hand and smiled faintly.
However, Choi Hyuk didn’t greet him and just went straight to the point.
“Do you want revenge?”
Chu Youngjin blankly stared at Choi Hyuk momentarily as he didn’t understand his words. Soon after, he asked.
Chu Youngjin’s voice sounded extremely exhausted.
He had not heard the news about Choi Hyuk killing Song Simin and the others. So he guessed, ‘Does he want revenge on the ones who killed Jung Minji?’
He didn’t feel like it.
He had no intention of avenging Jung Minji.
He did what he could for her. He was absolutely loyal to her until she died, which meant he had repaid the favor of avenging Lee Hyejin. He wasn’t duty-bound to avenge her after her death.
At his question, Choi Hyuk didn’t reply but wrote on the ground. His finger went through the asphalt like tofu.
[The ones who created this game.]
He hadn’t expected this.
The moment he saw those words, his heart thumped.
The blood in his withered heart started to boil. His eyes became bloodshot. It was a strange phenomenon that even he couldn’t believe.
‘I still had energy left?’
His weak body that had starved for 3 days grew hot.
Choi Hyuk calmly said.
“I have a lead. No matter how long it takes… I will definitely succeed.”
At the same time, a message appeared in front of Chu Youngjin.
[Sovereign Choi Hyuk wants to accept you as his follower. Accept?]
He stared intensely at the message in front of him. He stared at it without blinking an eye. He slowly got up holding the red sword.
Choi Hyuk didn’t smile. Instead, he looked him in the eyes and grabbed his hand.
It was a sunny afternoon.
 injeolmi – a traditional rice cake made from glutinous rice and coated with bean flour
 sujeonggwa – persimmon drink
 A line from ‘Tao Te Ching’.