“…Um, it’s a bit embarrassing to say this but I must have replayed it dozens of times.”
Inside a quiet cafe, as soon as I ordered coffee and sat down, it was the first thing that Yoo Sung-soo said.
I sipped the cold vanilla latte with a straw and asked.
“Replayed it? What exactly?”
“The video from one week ago where you took down those orcs on your own. Which was also the day you were awakened!”
“You have no idea how shocked I was the first time I saw it. Of course, I’ve seen many videos of players attacking but…I think you are the only one to show that amount of power on the first day of awakening, Mr. Jae-min.”
[‘Sung Hyun-sook’ is proud and says “What a decent young man, he sure has a keen eye!”]
Wasn’t it more like thanks to mom’s vitamin pill than me being the great one…?
Seeing Yoo Sung-soo look at me with sparkly eyes as if a fan is greeting their idol made me remember it again.
‘Right. This guy, he was as eager as me to succeed as a player.’
The reason for the eagerness was simple.
In today’s world, the best job to enjoy abundant capital is, after all, a player.
Of course, this guy is absolutely not some snob who is money hungry.
He doesn’t have that sort of personality either.
“More than anything, you looked like someone who I’ve dreamt to be. To be honest, I’ve even imagined this. Things like how great would it be if the person in the video was ‘me’….”
“Actually I awakened a month ago too. Though I’m F-class.
On the surface of the steaming coffee, Yoo Sung-soo’s face with a bitter smile reflected faintly.
“I was very happy when I first woke up. I thought my life has changed for the better. But as soon as I opened my status window, I went cold.”
I didn’t ask how his status window was for him to react that way.
Because even if he doesn’t tell me, I already know that for someone who has awakened, how much of a sensitive topic their ‘status window’ is.
Should I say it’s similar to when one has no useful cards in hand during a card game?
He shouldn’t speak recklessly about it unless we are allies.
He shouldn’t but…
“My stats were poor in the first place but then I couldn’t even view the info of my basic starting skills as it was locked. When I asked my guardian deity about it, they were just silent…Haa…”
Dude! You’re not supposed to share such important information with someone you’ve met for the first time!
Thank God it’s just me… Anyway, how foolish of him.
This is probably what Yoo Sung-soo’s status window looked like.
*??? (Class unknown, Basic): [Unlocked upon meeting the hidden condition]
The day when Yoo Sung-soo solves that question mark is one year later but, thanks to my cheat code-like privilege of regressing back, I already know the contents of the hidden condition.
If I were to reveal it a bit,
*??? (Class unknown, Basic): [Meet more than 700 players.]
The condition to unlock this skill is to meet 700 players.
But what does that number mean?
“Actually, after awakening, I can see numbers on top of people’s heads. Ah, only those who have awakened though. I can’t see it on ordinary citizens.”
“Is that so?”
“Hmm. But those numbers are all different from 1 to 100…so I can’t figure out what it means. I’m sure it has something to do with unlocking my skill…”
You are correct.
This guy, even though he’s foolish, he lowkey has a smart side.
The meaning of the numbers that he can only see on people who have awakened is very simple and clear.
It can be said that it shows how much Yoo Sung-soo likes and trusts the other player.
I wonder how much is it for me right now?
“Then you must be seeing a number above my head too?”
“Of course! Let’s see…It’s 136! Wow, it’s the highest number I’ve seen so far!”
That is no surprise.
Because to him, I’m like a saviour who helped him out from a threatening situation.
But still, I can’t believe his likability for me is only 136 after all I did…
Then what’s with the 700 players?
Is he supposed to find a marriage partner or what?
[‘Sung Hyun-sook’ sheds a tear and says “It’s okay if I never get a grandson as long as you’re happy, my son!”]
I feel like I’ll throw up all the coffee I drank just by imagining it so can you please not say such ominous things, mom?
‘I need to unlock that skill by any means.’
Just like Lee Chan-hyuk, who got hold of the legendary sword, Yoo Sung-soo too, walks on the path of success after one year.
The name of the player through whom the skill was revealed is, Oh Min-jun.
Funny enough, I have no clue what their relationship is.
But I have a definitive reason why Yoo Sang-su’s skill should be unlocked as soon as possible.
‘I need to be the first one to hit a strike.’
I know what benefits the first person Yoo Sang-su applied his skill, gained.
‘Oh Min-jun who was B-class turned into A-class thanks to Yoo Sung-soo’s skill.’
But this time, I will be the one to get that benefit by all means.
As I was drawing a blueprint in my head, Yoo Sung-soo sighed deeply which cut off my train of thoughts.
“Well, anyway, there’s nothing special about me except that I can tell who has awakened or not by seeing the numbers on one’s head. There’s no guild who would take an F-class like me and if I enter a gate alone, I’m sure I’ll simply die…
So I’ve never been to a dungeon ever since I awakened.”
Oh? I can’t believe a sudden opportunity to increase my likeability has come to find me?
I took a sip of coffee calmly, pretending hard not to show that I’m excited, and spoke.
“Then would you like to go right now?”
“Pardon? Where exactly…”
Yoo Sung-soo’s eyes widened for a moment.
“A d-d-dungeon? Me?”
“Of course, you will have to come along with me though. Um, but you look very tired, so it’s burdensome then…”
“N-no! I’m okay! I really want to go! I just finished my midnight part-time job shift so I am a bit sleepy but, I can’t lose such a chance because of that!”
Right, I remember he told me that he used to work two part-time jobs a day to survive before he became successful.
No wonder he looks so withered.
“Thank you very much, Mr. Jae-min. Byt why are you doing this much for me…?”
Yoo Sung-soo seems suspicious because I am doing a favour to him out of nowhere.
Rather than being suspicious, it looks like he’s asking because he is sincerely curious why.
I answered without much thought.
“Why not? I need to go for a mission later this evening with my team so it’s like a warmup.”
“And on the side, I can give you a tour so it’s not a bad deal for the both of us, right? And who knows. If you enter a dungeon your skill might get suddenly unlocked too.”
If my eyes are not deceiving me then, Yoo Sung-soo’s eyes started to fill with marble-like tears.
He’s touched by only this much?
[‘Sung Hyun-sook’ advises “Once you get closer, you better warn him to not follow strangers in the future!”]
I should really do that.
Seriously Sung-soo, at this rate you will end up standing surety for some stranger.
From preventing dear precious Sung-soo from getting hurt, I decided to enter the least dangerous green gate.
Green Gate is a place where three D-class players can clear 80% of the attack rate, and C-class players with good equipment can easily clear solo, on their own.
However, I’m a B-class player who defeated a twin-headed ogre on my own.
At this point, a green gate is like a piece of cake for me!
Every time I thoughtlessly swung the long sword summoned by the ‘Pandora’s box’, goblins, who are a staple punching bag of the fantasy world, fell down helplessly one by one.
[‘Sung Hyun-sook’ sighs and says “Don’t tell me you enjoy slaughtering innocent beings!?”]
It’s just a tour so I don’t have to go and suffer at a difficult gate, do I?
The reaction of my tourist isn’t too bad either!
“Oh my God. The monsters are collapsing as if they’re scraps of paper…! Seeing it in a video versus seeing it in real life is like poles apart, Mr. Jae-min!”
…Though it’s not the reaction I was expecting?
If he’s inside a dungeon that he was so desperate to see, then he should be surprised to see the surrounding ecology or monsters, but why is he shocked at me?
“I know it’s just a green gate and mere goblins but, I’m seeing monsters being knocked out like this in one go for the first time! Mr. Jae-min, if this goes on, aren’t you really going to become an S-class in the future?”
“I won’t as you to pay me back in exchange for giving you a tour of the dungeon so you can stop with the flattery.”
“I’m not trying to flatter you, I’m serious!”
His reaction is too much, It’s not like he is someone who got isekaied and is witnessing modern culture for the first time.
Well, they say compliments can even make a whale dance.
So even though I felt a bit burdensome, I didn’t feel all too bad.
Originally, the journey, which was supposed to be boring to the point it would make me yawn because it’s so easy, became a bit enjoyable thanks to Yoo Sung-soo’s reactions.
And when Yoo Sung-soo’s reaction, which makes one embarrassed, reached its peak,
It was when I knocked down the Boss monster, the Goblin-Champion at the end of the dungeon.
“Wow…! Even the boss monster…”
“You can stop with the exclamations and now that you’ve come to a dungeon, shouldn’t you try to do something too, Mr. Sung-soo?
Instead of replying back to Yoo Sung-soo, I threw a hunting dagger covered in a leather sheathe at him.
Yoo Sung-soo, who barely managed to receive the dagger with both hands, looked at me with an expression which said ‘what is this?’
I answered briefly.
“The core of a Goblin-Champion is at the pit of its stomach. Try taking it down once.”
“Y-you mean by myself?”
“That’s why I gave you that dagger.”
“B-but this will be my first time trying to dig into a core…”
“Everything in this world has a first time. Just give it a go once. Isn’t it a pity to leave after watching me fight only?”
“That’s true but…”
Yoo Sung-soo, who was hesitant and first, now had a determined look,
I think the dagger…slightly missed from the point of the goblin’s core?
“No, I said it’s the pit of the stomach, why did you stab its belly?! Euack! Blood! It’s all over my clothes!”
“W-what should I do?!”
“J-just wait! I’ll look around to see if there’s something around we can use to stop the flow! Ugh, damn it! If the bleeding is severe, then the freshness of the core will decrease…!”
After a while, we lay down on the blood-covered field in a 大 shape.
While holding the core, which is a symbol of human victory, in one hand.
“…I’m realizing for the first time, that digging a core was something this difficult.”
“Looks like I should head to the sauna before going for my mission later.”
Actually, there was no mission or anything, but since it’s a lie I said once, I need to stick to it until the end.
I was dumbfounded that after a pfft! I burst into laughter.
Crap, once I’ve started laughing, I can’t stop.
What is so funny that I started laughing right now?
Ah, right, I’m sure I started laughing looking at the state we’re in.
I heard that laughter is contagious?
Yoo Sung-soo, who was looking at me in a strange way, soon burst into a lighter after his cheeks quivered.
[‘Sung Hyun-sook’ shakes her and says “Crazy little things.”]
Two blood-covered men giggling all over the place, we sure must look crazy.
Shortly afterwards, my laughter stopped and I spoke after slowly passing the goblin’s core onto Yoo Sung-soo’s hand.
“You can take this.”
“…Okay. …Wait what?! N-no. How could I…!”
“I’m not giving it to you for free so don’t misunderstand. This is a sort of deal, that’s right, a deal.”
“W-what should I give you back then…?”
“Your contact number.”
“I mean, let’s keep in touch in the future. I don’t know who among us is elder or younger but, let’s drop the formal tone too.”
For your information, I’m a year older
In my previous life, we weren’t extremely close so we didn’t have that sort of brotherly relationship.
But it will probably be different this time.
Sung-soo, who grabbed the core as if it were some kind of treasure, seemed to be looking for something to say while moving his adam’s apple up and down.
Before he says another cringy line that will make me curl my toes and fingers, I decided to break the silence.
“Right now, what is the number above my head? Is it still 136?”
Yoo Sung-soo, who kept glancing at the top of my head couldn’t hide his surprise.
“It’s suddenly increased to 284?”
After we exchanged phone numbers, we parted ways as soon as we came out of the gate.
On the surface, that is.
“Can’t you sponsor me one more skill?”
I spoke to mom while looking at Yoo Sung-soo’s back as he moved further and further away.
[‘Sung Hyun-sook’ turns her head away and says “You’ll get in trouble if you say brazen things like that!”]
No, don’t turn your head away.
Mom. Look at me.
Look at your son, please.
[‘Sung Hyun-sook’ smiles and says “But since you were very cool earlier while knocking down the Goblin-Champion in one go, that is a good enough reason to sponsor you.”]
Mother, you are quite the pro at playing with a person’s feelings…
The skill which I want to request mom to sponsor me is <Stealth>.
A skill which hides one’s outer appearance as well as one’s sound.
In other words…
[Skill, <Stealth> in use!]
It’s perfect for stalking someone.
‘Let’s try and dig up something on him.’
I can’t believe I’m only 285 even after doing all of this.
Just when is it going to rise till 700?
Well, since we’ve gotten close face-to-face first, it wasn’t a complete waste of time…but for some reason, it’s not enough.
‘Even something trivial will do. I need to gather information about Sung-soo and find something that will make his likeability towards me increase.’
If I had known this would happen, then I would’ve tried to get closer to him in my previous life.
All I’m aware of is the information about his skills hence, there’s nothing I know really…
I continued my <stealth> state and sneaked behind Yoo Sung-soo’s back who was headed somewhere taking big strides.
At first, I thought he was obviously going home but,
<Guro Sacred Heart Hospital>
It’s also a general hospital.
But why is he at a hospital?
Did he perhaps get hurt without me knowing at the dungeon earlier?
No, if so, he would say that he is in pain, he’s not the type of guy to keep it all to himself….
While I continued to follow him in a dilemma, Yoo Sung-soo, who finished talking to the nurse at the desk, headed straight to the 7th floor.
Then, Yoo Sung-soo opened the door of a wardroom with the sign ‘Room 703’.
I tried to follow inside the door before it was completely closed.
When I saw the scene inside the ward, I couldn’t move as if I was struck by lighting.
Inside the single-person ward, a woman lay in bed alone.
It must be Yoo Sung-soo’s mother.
It was an obvious scene that could only be interpreted that way.
But the reason why I suddenly froze is because of her appearance…
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