Chapter 1 — Lucky Day (1)
“You crazy bastard! You’re telling me to be a meat shield!”
“No, hyung. Don’t take it the wrong way. Besides, you said you needed the money, right?”
Even with Jeong WooMin dissuading him, Min JaeHyun shouted angrily. JaeHyun’s voice rang out through the interior of the cafe.
JaeHyun glared at Jeong WooMin, who was standing in front of him, while biting his lips in frustration.
‘Damn. No wonder he said he’d take me along on a dungeon raid.’
He had wondered why Jeong WooMin was contacting him out of the blue.
JaeHyun’s partner from the Raider agency. He was someone who took care of and distributed work to freelance raiders who weren’t part of any guild.
So when JaeHyun was contacted by Jeong WooMin, he thought there was work he could do for a change.
But when he heard the request — Damn.
Stand on the front line with a shield in a dungeon full of undead monsters.
It basically meant that they would use him as a meat shield in a dangerous situation.
Of course, it wasn’t that Jeong WooMin didn’t understand where JaeHyun was coming from.
However, there was no other way.
Min JaeHyun was a lower mid-level D-rank raider among the Awakened. And a Warrior at that.
It wasn’t like he was more experienced or skilled than his rank implied. So the treatment JaeHyun was currently receiving could be said to be natural.
JaeHyun sighed and lowered his volume.
“Why are there only jobs like this left, when those with a lower rank than me get pretty good jobs?!”
“Well, you know how it is, hyung. Nowadays, there aren’t many places that like to hire Warrior-class raiders even if they have a high rank.”
“So, are you insulting me for being a martial arts nut? Jeez, I apologize for the grave sin of preferring the arts.”
Martial arts fanatic.
It was basically a derogatory term for a raider who specialized in combat.
Fundamentally, Awakened raiders were classified as either Warriors or Magicians, but Magician-class raiders could get quite a lot of commissions even if they had a low rank. On the other hand, the situation wasn’t that great for Warriors.
Jeong WooMin took a sip from the cup of coffee in front of him and spoke.
“ In reality… that’s true. Nowadays, the Magicians are taking up all the jobs. Martial artists are pretty slow in completing tasks and have a higher frequency of injury, so they aren’t the first choice for employers.”
That was the bitter truth.
Compared to those who hunted monsters from the rear, martial artists who were in the front could only receive more injuries.
And it went without saying how superior Magicians were in large-scale combat.
At Jeong WooMin’s words, JaeHyun gulped down the iced Americano in his hand.
JaeHyun put the glass down with a bang and wiped his mouth with his sleeve.
‘I’m aware. It would have been different if it was 10 years ago. But now, there is nowhere a martial artist can go. Damn… I should have chosen to be a Magician back then…’
JaeHyun got a good score on the awakening aptitude test and entered the Millaes Academy, which specialized in raider training.
At the time, the score JaeHyun got on his magic aptitude test was a whopping 97%.
Even the score of the current top Magician in Korea, Seo Ina, was merely 92%, so JaeHyun’s score at that time could be said to be out of this world.
On the other hand, his combat score was just 34%.
However, JaeHyun still chose martial arts.
He didn’t have any great reason or grand purpose for doing so. There was just a tendency to disdain Magicians at the time.
Of course, it was the opposite now. Martial artists had waned, and Magicians were worshipped.
‘If I had chosen to be a Magician 11 years ago, would my life be better right now?’
JaeHyun shook his head to get rid of useless thoughts.
Normally, a raider’s growth stopped in their 20s.
In other words, even if Jaehyun regretted it now, nothing would change.
At one time, his talent was envied by all those who wished to be a Magician.
However, he was now a D-rank raider with nothing special.
The difference between Jaehyun’s past and present was incredibly vast.
After a moment of silence passed—
The person who started the conversation again was Jeong WooMin.
“Hyung. Such opportunities don’t come by very often. I was going to give this chance to someone else, but I remembered your circumstances. So I came to you first.”
JaeHyun knew from the very beginning that he didn’t have a choice. If he wanted to survive in his situation, he couldn’t do so by avoiding rough work.
JaeHyun spoke after contemplating the situation.
“I understand. I’ll do it.”
“You’re making the right choice, hyung.”
A smile spread across Jeong WooMin’s face.
“Then, I’ll see you tomorrow at 8 o’clock at the place I’ll text you the location of beforehand. Don’t be late.”
“What do you mean, ‘see you’? You’re also busy with stuff for the agency. Don’t worry about it, just do what you have to do.”
At JaeHyun’s words, Jeong WooMin laughed slightly and whispered in a low voice.
“No, I also have something to do there tomorrow. See you tomorrow, hyung.”
Despite what he said, Jeong WooMin couldn’t be seen at the entrance of the dungeon.
Time quickly passed from the 8 o’clock he’d promised to meet Jeong WooMin at, and it got closer to 9 o’clock. JaeHyun strolled around the dungeon entrance by himself and mumbled.
“…Jeong Woomin, that bastard. He talked about meeting the next day, but I can’t even see his shadow. It would have been better if he hadn’t said he was coming.”
Then again, for Jeong WooMin, it would be better to take care of those with better talent.
He was merely a D-rank martial artist, but Jeong WooMin was an A-rank Magician. A rank that obviously received good treatment wherever they went.
There was no way such a person could be dedicated to just him.
‘To begin with, I don’t know why such a guy is working in a mere raider agency…’
He could become a part of any guild. But to think he’s wasting his time at the agency…
It was not something JaeHyun could comprehend. But since he was receiving help with this and that due to it, he didn’t think too deeply into the matter.
Everyone has their own circumstances after all.
JaeHyun let out a sigh as he observed his surroundings.
As soon as he did so, he saw combat raiders in the same situation as him.
There were a little over forty of them. As they wiped their tiny shields, everyone’s expression showed they knew they were facing their deaths.
‘If they wipe it any more, they might bore a hole in their shields.’
This time, he turned to look in the other direction.
Unlike the indifferent labourers, the Magicians had a cordial atmosphere with bright expressions.
Even with just a look, one could see that it was a top guild filled with high-ranked raiders. It was worthy of its name as the Meteor Guild which was becoming famous as a rookie guild lately.
Seeing the view in front of him, JaeHyun reflected on his own circumstance.
Truthfully, he hadn’t wanted to participate in this raid.
However, the deposit for the room he was renting right now was 5 million won plus 350,000 rent. Thinking about the money that goes out every month for food and armor repairing, as well as the little bits that go out for miscellaneous things, there was no other option except to go on a raid.
Editor: 5,350,000 won = 4500 dollars
Of course, seeing as he was still only 27, JaeHyun could ask his parents for help.
Above all, his father, Min Seong-Oh, was an A-rank raider. One of the people envied by all citizens.
But unfortunately, his father had no love for him. The same could be said for his mother who had already passed away.
JaeHyun’s father, who physically and verbally abused the two of them, was so-called human trash.
That was why he left home penniless the moment he became an adult.
He wanted to get out of his father’s shadow.
But as a result, JaeHyun ended up in poverty.
It wasn’t that he had never tried to do other jobs. But this was the only thing he learned at the academy, so he found that other jobs didn’t suit him. He couldn’t last long at other places and always came back.
Well, the result was that he was now in a situation where he was repairing his shield to be a meat shield himself.
A familiar voice could be heard from behind JaeHyun who was deep in thought for a moment.
“Huh? JaeHyun! We’re meeting here again, huh?”
JaeHyun turned to look in the direction where the voice was coming from. Soon, the familiar face of a middle-aged man appeared in JaeHyun’s sight.
JaeHyun had met him a few times in dungeons as a scout since he was a combat raider like JaeHyun.
“Myung-Ho hyung, you came as well?”
“Yeah. There’s not a lot of work these days… These kinds of jobs may be a bit dangerous, but they pay a lot.”
“Yeah… Well, that’s true. Especially since…”
“And there’s no place for combat raiders other than this. Right? Anyway, kids nowadays don’t have any love for the sword. What’s so cool about sending out a fireball from the rear?”
‘What ‘love’. I’m about to starve to death.’
Of course, he didn’t let those words leave his mouth. He merely sighed and shrugged.
Lee Myung-Ho shook his head to show he didn’t care about it much and put a hand on JaeHyun’s shoulder.
“Well, regardless. Let’s do our best this time, too. So, do you want to go drink soju after this?”
“Yeah… sounds good. But I don’t have much money right now…”
“No can do. I paid last time too.”
At Lee Myung-Ho’s stern words, JaeHyun’s shoulders drooped and he made a pitiful expression.
Lee Myung-Ho looked at him with sympathy for a moment and then scratched his head as he spoke.
“Ah! Alright. Alright! Then I’ll pay for it this final time!”
‘He’s a really easy guy.’
JaeHyun laughed internally.
This was exactly the eighth time he was getting free drinks.
“Everyone, gather at the dungeon entrance! We will enter in 30 minutes.”
At the sudden announcement from a member of the guild, JaeHyun and Lee Myung-Ho lost their spirits.
The two quickly moved toward the area where the voice was coming from.
At that moment, JaeHyun abruptly stopped walking and turned on the phone he took out from his chest pocket.
“JaeHyun. Why aren’t you coming?”
Seeing that JaeHyun hadn’t followed him, Lee Myung-Ho turned around and looked at what JaeHyun was doing.
A smile promptly spread on Lee Myung-Ho’s face.
“Ha! Are you looking at your smartphone again? You seem to always do that before going into a dungeon. What are you looking at so diligently? Are you looking at a picture of your girlfriend?”
“…It’s nothing. Let’s go.”
JaeHyun’s stiff expression softened a little.
Inside the old smartphone’s screen, there was a picture of his younger self and his mother, Lee SeonHwa.
A slightly bitter smile appeared on JaeHyun’s face.
‘I’ll come back safely.’
JaeHyun turned his phone to dungeon mode and stuck close to Lee Myung-Ho. Without losing his smile, he was sucked into the dungeon along with Lee Myung-Ho.
“Hey! Tank! Raise your shield properly. Keep the line straight!”
“f*ck! Why can’t you understand human language? Maintain your position even if you die!”
The guild Magician that JaeHyun was guarding didn’t stop with the curses and verbal abuse. Since it was a scouting mission with their lives on the line, the Magicians were also high-strung.
The Warriors, including JaeHyun, had their own task.
While the Magicians were casting, the Warriors had to secure the battle line and block the monsters’ attacks endlessly.
“The glittering lights of Alfheim…”
“Flames under Surt’s command, destroy all enemies in sight…”
During that time, the Magicians would aim and shoot spells at the monsters using cringey casting.
The monsters who were running toward the Warriors became ashes in an instant.
The hand holding his shield was filled with sweat. JaeHyun panted as he returned to his position in the battle line.
All the monsters that appeared in the dungeon this time were the undead type.
They came back to life even when killed, so they had to be either cut down with weapons filled with holy power or hit with holy magic. They were monsters who were complicated to deal with.
However, displaying the power of a guild of Magicians, the members of Meteor quickly disposed of the undead monsters.
‘If it’s going to continue like this, I don’t have to worry about dying.’
JaeHyun recalled what had happened yesterday and considered himself stupid for spending the whole day worrying. At the speed they were proceeding with, it wasn’t too much to say that they could clear the dungeon by evening.
The bitter fight against the monsters continued for four hours.
The raid captain looked around the razed dungeon, then he stopped walking and spoke.
“This place seems roughly done. Let’s rest for a while!”
“Everyone heard that, right? We’re resting here for a while before continuing! Raiders who were at the front! Come back!”
At the words of the raid captain and guild member, those who were walking in front turned around.
Lee Myung-Ho, who was walking right beside JaeHyun, began to speak.
“Wow… Any way you look at it, this place is massive.”
“Yeah. With this size, we could probably build a soccer field here.”
JaeHyun said in agreement as he looked around.
It truly was a huge dungeon.
‘I’m not sure if it’s because it’s an A-ranked dungeon, but it sure is enormous.’
The dungeon the Meteor Guild was currently trying to clear was A-ranked. According to a news article that came out recently, this was the first time a rookie guild attempted to clear an A-ranked dungeon so quickly.
‘I don’t want to admit it, but a guild of Magicians… truly is strong.’
A few doors that looked like cave entrances could be seen amidst the foggy darkness.
One of those doors probably led to the boss room.
JaeHyun looked at the row of doors and gulped.
However great of a rookie guild Meteor was, this was an A-rank dungeon where hundreds of elite raiders died every year.
It was not a place that permitted carelessness.
“Whew… is the boss room the only place left?”
JaeHyun caught his breath as he sat on a folding chair at the edge and did some stretching.
All the strength in his body suddenly left him, and JaeHyun started to waver like a sheet of paper.
一 ……The Aesir System is downloading.
一 The connection with the user will temporarily be cut.
一 The system is rebooting.
“Huh? What is this…”
A voice out of the blue.
JaeHyun focused on the machine tone in his ears with a dazed expression.
‘Shouldn’t the Aesir System already be downloaded? There hasn’t been anything like this until now.’
However, the confusing messages did not stop there.
The system downloading and the reboot failing were all things that were happening for the first time.
The strange situations that he had never seen on the awakened community’s raider bulletin board continued. JaeHyun’s mind became blank in an instant.
A voice from an unknown source started to calmly spread inside JaeHyun’s head.
一 An unknown presence is infiltrating the Aesir System!
一 Returning to safe mode.
‘An unknown presence…? What the hell was the voice from a moment ago……’
“Did it say… to follow the light?”
“Huh? JaeHyun, what do you mean?”
“Nothing. Just now, I thought I heard someone tell me to follow the…”
JaeHyun was unable to finish his sentence.
A firefly shining with a white light wavered in front of his eyes.
‘This light… was it saying that I should follow this light?’
JaeHyun nervously swallowed.
‘What on earth is happening right now?’