“Honestly, I didn’t believe the rumor about you fighting Uruo by yourself. If it was one vs. one, then perhaps, but that bastard is not the type that goes anywhere alone.”
“In that case, were you thinking I must have teamed up with someone? I don’t even know anyone.”
“Don’t know anyone? What do you mean you don’t? I thought you said you trained together with Dokgo Hoo?”
“Ah, there is that guy.”
It has not even been two weeks, but it felt like Vulcan had not seen him for a very long time.
‘It must be because there were a lot of incidents and accidents.’
“Anyway, I fought Uruo and his men by myself.”
“Okay. I believe you. Although it is still hard for me to believe that you fought Lee Jungyup.”
“It wasn’t like we actually fought. He backed out first.”
“Is that so? Hm… Well the way that man thinks is incomprehensible to begin with. Ah, this is not the important part.”
From his inventory, Jake brought out a paper that was folded up and then some. Vulcan peeked a glance at it to observe. It was a map.
“With your level of skills, it shouldn’t be a problem for you to go deep inside the south gate field while keeping me safe, right?”
“Um… I am confident, but still, can we go to a place with fewer monsters appearing at the area?”
Honestly, Vulcan was feeling a little uneasy about it.
At Jake’s level, even a scratch from any monster in the south gate area would mean death to him.
“Of course. Even I know my life is precious. Stay alert as you follow me.”
“Mana Armor, Eagle Lightning.”
After casting protective spells on Jake, Vulcan also activated a detection skill.
As Jake lead the way with confident steps, Vulcan followed his back like an attendant.
Jake was not joking about having lived in Beloong City for a long time.
Along the journey, there were hardly any monsters showing aggression toward Vulcan and Jake. Once in a blue moon, there were twin headed ogres charging at them, but the monsters were neutralized easily.
Most of the monsters were roaming about the area alone instead in groups. In the south gate field, where the monsters always outnumber the people, Vulcan found it to be miraculous that their walk through the area was so uneventful.
It was just about when they could no longer see any monsters or people.
They arrived at the destination safely. Before they realized, the scenery, which used to be a greenfield, had changed to dry soils. Also, there were things that caught Vulcan’s eyes. Five large stones, like something from stories about ancient ruins, were raised up in pentagon shape.
“We are here.”
“There is nothing here though.”
Really, besides the stones, there was nothing else here.
Let alone monsters, there wasn’t even a Max Level Tree which was usually very common. It was just a wasteland.
Jake ignored Vulcan’s comment, which had a bit of a complaint mixed in. Instead, Jake brought out a wooden pot and a crusher. The wooden pot’s inner surface was stained in blood, and that made Vulcan very suspicious about its use.
“Mr. Jake. Just what are these…”
Vulcan asked to solve his curiosity, but soon his face turned to stone.
Before Vulcan realized, there were several goblin and orc hands. With an unidentified scroll placed inside the pot, Jake started to put pressure into to crushing them.
Blood drops splashed to Jake’s face every time he crushed the contents.
Perhaps Vulcan was mistaking it, but after a while, Jake’s expressionless face suddenly showed a sign of a faint smile. Regardless, having witnessed a macabre side of Jake, Vulcan took a step back.
Broken bits of the monsters’ body parts were gradually turning into smaller pieces.
Jake had been working on crushing the contents for a while, and now he laid down the crusher and took a breath. Smiling with a satisfaction, Jake looked toward Vulcan.
“Um? Hey, why are you acting like that?”
“… I should be the one to ask that question, Mr. Jake. What in the world are you doing? Are you here to bury dead bodies?”
Jake gave a blank stare at Vulcan for a moment and broke into a laughter.
“Haha. That’s not it. I didn’t explain what I was going to do before I started, so I can understand how you got the wrong idea. Still, since it is almost done, I will explain later. Injecting mana.”
Jake put his hand toward the pot and injected his mana into the pot.
Mana flowing out of Jake’s hand touched the contents inside it. Now curious, Vulcan watched Jake with an anticipation on what’s about to unfold.
About one minute had passed.
Having completed mana injection, Jake pulled his hand away from the pot, and immediately, red light started to pour out of the pot.
The mysterious and ominous light, which had tint closer to that of blood, gradually grew in size. Eventually, it became an oval that was big enough for a person to walk through. Looking at the oval shaped light, Jake said,
“This will be your hunting ground from now on.”
“…By chance, was all that for summoning?”
“The process is a little off-putting, isn’t it?”
Jake laughed out big time. Vulcan responded,
“It is more than a little off-putting. That, do I need to do that every time I come here?”
“You know very well. I will lend you the pot and the crusher. I will also give you the ingredients later.”
The pot and the crusher, which still had blood and flesh on them, rolled toward Vulcan’s feet. Vulcan stepped back a little and objected,
“Is something this cumbersome really necessary? It is not like there is a shortage of monsters in the south gate’s hunting grounds.”
“It is worth the effort.”
Jake stepped in close to Vulcan and whispered in his ears. It wasn’t like there was anyone around to listen, so Vulcan thought Jake was over doing it, but he was surprised by what Jake had to say.
“This place... It is a place of a hidden quest.”
“… There are others besides the main quest?”
“I do not know if there are more, but this place is definitely one. I know because I went in there once.”
Looking at the portal, Jake added,
“Well, you will know once you enter, but a quest notification will come up. The monster levels are around 350. I don’t know about the boss. I only went up to the entrance with my master and came back. My master was also the one that told me about this place.”
“You also have a master?”
“I use to. He went to Act 2 now. Well, it is not like he taught me any fighting techniques. To explain, he was more like a benefactor who found me a reason to live in this place. I learned the ropes in merchant business from him.”
Jake’s eyes were looking nostalgic. He looked like he might be thinking about his past. Although Vulcan wanted to hear more explanation right away, he wanted to be considerate to Jake, so Vulcan waited. A moment later, Jake regained his focus on the matter at hand and continued the explanation.
“Oh, I was getting nostalgic for a moment. Sorry about that. Now where was I… Oh right. The monsters in this place are incredibly agile. They don’t have weapons or armors, but instead, their claws and teeth are extremely sharp. It looked like there are many of them… and it also looked like they regenerate when you re-enter after exiting the dungeon. Actually, I thought I would never have a reason to tell anyone about this place. Well, also, it is not like I could clear this dungeon myself.”
“If there are a lot of monsters here, isn’t that even better for your benefit, Mr. Jake? The people you invested in the past…”
“Would there have been anything dropping from slaying monsters that aren’t carrying any weapons or armors? I’m telling you about this place because you are a Player.”
“Ah, that’s right.”
Vulcan felt it again, but it was a very useful ability of the SYSTEM.
Having finished his explanation, Jake brought out goblin’s and orc’s hands and a stack of scrolls and handed them over to Vulcan. Vulcan quickly put away the monsters’ hands and read the scroll’s instruction.
[Expendable Item – Return Scroll]
*Usable only during non-combat. Can teleport to the Beloong City’s main plaza.
“Like how I showed you earlier, put one orc, one goblin, and one scroll in to the pot and crush them to fine pieces. After that, inject the pot with your mana, and the gate to the ‘Abandoned Dungeon’ will open. Those scrolls are pretty expensive, so be thankful.”
Before Vulcan realized, Jake was explaining as he held a cigarette on his mouth and tore a scroll. Vulcan nodded lightly.
“Thank you. I will use them well.”
“As for the items you find, give them to me whenever you visit me at the town.”
Jake waved his hand to say his goodbye for now, and he disappeared with a blue light.
For a moment, Vulcan looked at the space where Jake disappeared from, and then he redirected his gaze toward the red portal.
Just looking at the portal gave Vulcan the chills.
Devilish aura of unknown origin was pasted all over it, but there was no other choice.
“Shall I get going then.”
Vulcan took a deep breath and slowly entered the portal.
[Hidden Quest – Defeat the King Cheetah, the Abandoned Dungeon’s Boss Monster.]
[Difficulty – C Rank (Asgard’ Standard)]
[Reward – A Choice from skills or items.]
An abandoned dungeon that could be accessed from the Beloong City’s south gate field. Defeat King Cheetah, its boss monster.
*Level restriction for entering the boss’s room – 300Lv (380Lv or above recommended)
*King Cheetah is incredibly fast and tough. Be cautions when it is angry.
“It really gave me a quest.”
Ever since coming to Asgard, Vulcan had been disappointed because there weren’t any instances of even ordinary quests, let alone a hidden one. Seeing a quest coming up on the SYSTEM’s screen really brightened Vulcan’s mood.
“Well, although I won’t even be able to try beating it until I get to level 300.”
The boss’s room would be locked until Vulcan earned the qualification to enter.
Vulcan directed his gaze toward the part that described rewards.
Vulcan liked the description. There was the fact that he could choose one from many options, and the one thing he liked in particular was the fact that skills are one of the options.
‘If I had to choose from skills and items, I’m definitely going to go with a skill.’
Vulcan learned numerous magic spells from training under Beruneru. However, he still could not suppress his greed toward skills. There had to be many powerful skills out there that Beruneru doesn’t know about. Naturally, Vulcan raised his expectations.
In comparison, he was not so interested in items. It was because Vulcan already had bountiful sponsorship from Jake that he could use up to level 450.
In his mind, Vulcan firmly decided to choose a skill from the rewards no matter what.
‘Ah, before I start the quest… there was one thing I was going to think over.’
Vulcan cast Hellfire through the SYSTEM.
After taking a moment to check the conditions of his body, Vulcan disengaged the magic and cast Hellfire through the flow of traditional magic.
Hellfire was burning blue from its high heat. Feeling its warmth, Vulcan thought,
‘As I thought, the mental and physical burdens of activating the magic are substantially less with the SYSTEM.’
When Vulcan was learning magic from Beruneru, he heard lectures about the ‘shortcomings of magic cast through the SYSTEM’ until they were nailed to his ears.
However, it was an assessment by Beruneru who could only observe the magic cast through the SYSTEM from the outside.
As for Vulcan, the one who almost reached the peak in both the SYSTEM and traditional magic, he assessed that both methods have advantages.
The greatest advantage of the traditional method was being able to cast spells without speaking the commands.
Through the traditional method, Berunaru demonstrated his ability to make magic to appear before anyone could figure out what was being cast. From watching him, Vulcan could certainly understand why Berunaru thinks of casting magic through the SYSTEM as garbage.
Compared to casting the magic through the SYSTEM with command words, the traditional method required substantially more of mental focus and mana. However, being able to cast magic clandestinely and rapidly more than made up for those shortcomings.
On the other hand, the advantage of the SYSTEM method was the fact that it was easy.
As long as the command codes were said, magic could be cast without any concentration or will power. This could come in handy in case Vulcan got mentally exhausted from excessive use of magic.
Vulcan thought the ‘easy’ factor of the SYSTEM method was a great advantage.
‘Of course, although it has a serious drawback.’
There was the fact that the SYSTEM method required the command codes, and there was also the fact that magic cast through the SYSTEM could not be controlled to the level of precision possible with the traditional magic.
Of the two, the first one was a serious drawback that really could not be excused. There was no other penalty bigger than this in a critical moment or duel.
However, a few days ago, Vulcan met a man that partially solved that problem.
The leader of the Players Alliance, Uruo.
He showed Vulcan a brand-new way of utilizing the SYSTEM.
‘It is just that I never thought about trying. I’m sure I can do it. When it comes to understanding of magic, I am beyond comparison to Uruo. If I just took a moment to invest on understanding it…’
Vulcan went over the battles he had with the Players Alliance a few days ago.
Uruo’s battle tactics came to mind, how he minimized the length of the skill commands, and on top of that, how he actively interfered with Vulcan’s use of skill commands.
Also, Vulcan was thinking that, with his knowledge, it should be possible for him to cast magic through the SYSTEM without speaking any command codes.
Vulcan disengaged the Hellfire that was floating around and looked toward the gate leading to the dungeon.
A gate with engraving of an unknown beast’s form came into his view.
However, Vulcan decided to postpone going into the gate for a while.
“For now, should I just check the potential first?”
Vulcan plumped down and went over the battle against Uruo once more.
Going over every little detail that he just skimmed through last time, he analyzed everything and tried hard to understand them all. Vulcan gradually fell into a world of his own.
Within the abandoned dungeon, Vulcan’s lone training started.