Chapter 16. Personal Commission (2)
“How was it?” Shim Deok-Gu asked as soon as Seo Jun-Ho entered his office.
“What do you mean?”
“I’m talking about Cha Si-Eun. Isn’t she great?”
“We only spent two hours together. How should I know?” After a pause, Seo Jun-Ho continued. “…Well, she’s good at giving briefings.”
“You have no idea. She could work at a conglomerate company or a famous Guild with her credentials,” Deok-Gu said.
“Then why is she working at a place like this?” Seo Jun-Ho asked.
“Didn’t you notice? She really admires Specter. She said that she wanted to work here simply because Specter was here for a while.”
“What a strange girl.” As Seo Jun-Ho muttered to himself, Shim Deok-Gu stood up.
“Anyways, she’s good at her job, so make good use of her. Let’s go.”
“Go where?” Seo Jun-Ho asked.
“If you want to defeat the Cinder Fox, you need good equipment.”
“We’re going shopping?”
“No. We’re going to the Association’s weapons warehouse.”
“…You cheap bastard.”
“Hey, there are a lot of great weapons there! Take a look at them before you judge.” Shim Deok-Gu led his grumbling friend and started to walk toward the warehouse.
“I’ve gone there before. There wasn’t much for me to look at.”
“Well, last time you didn’t amount to much so you only went to zone 1,” Deok-Gu cheekily said.
The back door of zone 1 opened as Shim Deok-Gu’s iris was scanned.
“Don’t you think you at least need gear from zone 2 if you’re gonna catch the Cinder Fox?”
“…Hoo.” Now interested, Seo Jun-Ho slowly looked around zone 2. The quality of the equipment was much better than in zone 1. “I can take anything I want?” he asked.
“Yeah. I can explain them to you if you’d like.” Deok-Gu offered.
“Please. Maybe it’s because it has been a long time, but there’s a lot of unfamiliar stuff here.” Seo Jun-Ho remarked.
Shim Deok-Gu laughed and grabbed the sword in front of Seo Jun-Ho.
“Do you remember the game we played in internet cafes after school?” Deok-Gu asked.
“Yeah. It was League of Gods, right?” Seo Jun-Ho answered.
“Yeah. Whenever they had big patches, they released new builds and items.”
“Right. When it came out, we would come up with strategies and plans.” The duo laughed as they reminisced.
“It’s the same with gear. They have been developing for the past 25 years.” Shim Deok-Gu held out the sword to Seo Jun-Ho. “Take it.”
Seo Jun-Ho took it. It was a high-quality sword, but other than that, it just seemed like a normal sword. But it was much lighter than an ordinary sword.
“I’m a little disappointed. It’s nice, but it’s pretty normal.”
“Infuse it with magic,” Deok-Gu said.
As soon as he did, Seo Jun-Ho’s eyes went wide with surprise. “…What is this?”
“It’s a sword with the highest rate of magic transference. Your old sword couldn’t do this, could it?”
“These other weapons are the same.” Shim Deok-Gu excitedly introduced Seo Jun-Ho to the other equipment.
“This one releases electricity. You can stun monsters with it.”
“If you infuse this armor with magic, it creates an energy shield to block the enemy’s attacks.”
“Oh, did I explain this one? It’s called a magic bomb. It’s super powerful.” Shim Deok-Gu paused and glanced toward Seo Jun-Ho. “…Hey, what’s with that face? I thought you’d be more excited.” After all, Seo Jun-Ho was greedy when it came to items.
“I mean, it is impressive…but you said most Players use these sort of things nowadays?”
“Of course. They’re a lot more efficient than the normal weapons we used to have.”
Seo Jun-Ho furrowed his eyebrows and turned back to him. “Then when do they train with them?”
“Huh? That’s…” Shim Deok-Gu shrugged. “I’m not a Player, so I’m not too sure, but do they really need to train with them? All the newest equipment is at this level.”
“Haa…” Seo Jun-Ho shook his head. “Deok-gu. The…Rankers, do they use these things too?”
“Well, Rankers usually get custom-made gears, so I’m not too sure,” Deok-Gu replied.
Pursing his lips, Seo Jun-Ho thought for a second.
‘He said that the standards for Players have gone up…I can see that.’
In the past, Players would die miserable deaths because they couldn’t pierce the orcs’ hides. But with these new weapons, an orc’s hide could easily be stabbed through.
‘But at best, these are mere toys that can only kill normal monsters.’
These weapons couldn’t be used to hunt the ‘best’ ones. Those predators made even Seo Jun-Ho nervous.
These toys wouldn’t even put a scratch on them. He was sure of it.
‘A Player’s magic will short-circuit in front of such destructive power.’
And what about those fake artifacts that weren’t even worthy of a grade rating? They would simply break and fall apart.
“Not only that but the Cinder Fox…” It was the strongest of its kind, a ‘Boss Monster.’
Getting a little annoyed at Seo Jun-Ho’s long silence, Shim Deok-Gu finally spoke up. “Why aren’t you saying anything? Is there a problem?”
“There’s only one type of monster these toys can defeat.” Seo Jun-Ho placed the sword back in its place and shook his head. “Deok-Gu. Do you know why a Player only encounters weak monsters when their level is low?”
“…Because they’ll die if they encounter a strong one?”
“Exactly. This shitty system is really fair about things like that.”
“What are you trying to say?”
Seo Jun-Ho closed his eyes and recalled the training he and his four comrades went through. “A Player grows by fighting monsters. That way, they can use the experience and skills they’ve accumulated to face more powerful monsters.”
“So, you are thinking that these high-tech weapons won’t work on strong monsters?”
“Yeah. That’s why I asked if Rankers use these too.” Seo Jun-Ho affirmed.
“…” Shim Deok-Gu paused to consider this.
“You’re right…Players who use these weapons don’t exactly achieve much. But they’re great for Gates and lower-level monsters.”
Chuckling, Seo Jun-Ho looked around. Something caught his eyes and he walked toward a corner. A longsword was propped up against the wall.
As he pulled it from the sheath, the sound rang across the room.
“It’s also made with new materials, but it doesn’t have any particular features so I decided to simply put it away in the corner.”
“…The world has become very interesting. Personal growth has been hindered by mere toys.” This was probably because the world had become so peaceful. “I’ll take this. I don’t need anything else. Oh!” Seo Jun-Ho grabbed a few of the magic bombs. “And these look pretty fun too, so I’ll take some.”
“Alright…” Shim Deok-Gu’s shoulders sagged as he muttered to himself.
There was a crowd of people gathered in front of the Burning Dunes Gate. They were mostly Players and their families, but there were also reporters waiting for Seo Jun-Ho.
“That’s a lot of people.” Cha Si-Eun fidgeted as Seo Jun-Ho looked outside. She opened her thermos and offered it to him. “It’s lavender tea. It’s good for concentration as well as easing the body and the mind.”
“…You’re really prepared.”
“I’m a secretary after all. I also heard that Players get quite nervous and anxious before entering a Gate…” She tilted her head as she studied him. “But it’s strange. You don’t seem nervous at all.”
“…I am, on the inside.” Seo Jun-Ho blew on the tea before taking a sip and looked back outside. “It’s good. But I didn’t expect that there would be this many players.”
“You’re not going in alone. They all want the Cinder Fox’s core.”
“I heard that Guild members are here too. How many are there?”
“Counting you, there are a total of 27 Players who will go inside the Gate.” They had no idea how many would return. Seo Jun-Ho shook his head and got out of the car. As soon he did, he was showered with camera flashes and mics.
“How do you feel about going inside a Gate with other Players for the first time?”
“The Cinder Fox is known to be a fickle Boss Monster, how confident are you?”
“Is it true that you received a commission from Myungho Group’s President Choi Pil-Ho?” As the reporters crowded him, the other Players snickered.
“Wow, you’d think he’s a Ranker or something.”
“He’s been blowing up even though he’s a rookie. The media are all over him.”
“That scrawny guy cleared two Uncleared Gates? Were the reports mistaken?”
“I don’t believe it either. His equipment looks shabby too.”
“Well…he probably has stuff in his inventory. Do you think he’d clear the Gate with just that?”
There was a simple reason for their contempt; there were almost no novices who received as much attention as Seo Jun-Ho did. Most Players who weren’t part of famous Guilds couldn’t even land interviews.
Seo Jun-Ho knew this too.
‘There’s already this many reporters…It’s more than in the past.’
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the reporters were a representation of his hold on the media. Feeling good about himself, he curled his lip. “Nervous? I feel like I’m out for a walk.”
“Cinder Fox? I’ll defeat it easily.” Seo Jun-Ho remarked.
As soon as the short interviews ended, Cha Si-Eun stepped up. “For the sake of Player Seo Jun-Ho’s mental state, we will end the interviews here.”
The reporters looked disappointed, but it would be rude to pester someone who was about to enter a Gate. As they started to disperse, Cha Si-Eun let out a sigh. “Phew, I didn’t know that there would be this many reporters.”
“It just shows how interested they are in me.”
Until now, Cha Si-Eun had watched over many Players, but no one else had looked as calm as Seo Jun-Ho was looking right before they entered a Gate.
‘And he’s only been to two Gates before…’
Was he trying to act cool because he was in front of a girl?
Cha Si-Eun glanced at Seo Jun-Ho before nodding to him. “Please return safely.”
“Yes. And please make me lavender tea again. It was good.” As he started to walk toward the other Players, he said something else. “Oh, and you should get up earlier tomorrow.”
“Excuse me? Get up early…?” Cha Si-Eun blinked as Seo Jun-Ho turned back toward her.
“After today, we’re gonna get a whole lot of personal commission requests. So prepare yourself.”
27 Players entered the Gate, leaving their family’s cheers and the media’s attention behind.