02 – My Master’s Grace is like the Heavens (1)
The party members stood inside a glass greenhouse, staring alternatingly at a floating clock and at another gate, and wondered what they should do.
My heartbeats synchronized to the ticking of the second hand.
“What should we do… What should we do, Unni?”
I bit my lips at the System window that popped up before me.
I guess nothing will go my way today.
These past few days, once-in-a-million-chance events had been tumbling my way, but I didn’t expect that luck to follow me to the Field.
Because… This second gate–the one fluctuating before our very eyes–was connected to the World’s Towers.
[Will you enter the 19th floor, ‘The Necromancer’s Mansion?’]
Although the mission began chaotically, we progressed through the field smoothly.
Two different close-range damage dealers, one tanker, and one long-distance damage dealer.
We all played our parts.
Thanks to that, the party was able to defeat the Field Boss sitting in the middle of the greenhouse without a major crisis.
In particular, Cha Taeyang’s performance with her fire-attribute skills was quite remarkable.
It was almost unbelievable that today was her first formal mission.
Although Cho Sung-hyun was a bit hasty, the young student also did his part as a graduate of the training center, and Seo Young-woon faithfully protected the party members, despite his annoyance-filled expression.
‘I can’t complain–it took us less than two hours to clear the area.’
The real issue came next:
While Seo Young-woon and I were organizing the items and byproducts dropped by the Flower Bud Demon, the Field Boss, the huge clock floated in front of the children.
Before Cha Taeyang could stop him, Cho Sung-hyun reached out to the watch as if he were possessed.
“Cho Sung-hyun! Hey!” Cha Taeyang shouted.
“Kim-seobang, here! Come over here! It’s a disaster!”
I looked back when I heard Cha Taeyang’s and the dokkaebi’s cries but, by then, Cho Sung-hyun had already disappeared.
And, standing in his place, was the now open gate to the World’s Tower.
“Hunter Yoon Gaho, that’s…”
“It’s exactly what you think it is.
That’s an ‘interference.'”
The official name for this phenomenon was called a Cosmic Gate.
The term referred to when a Field and the World’s Towers became entangled with each other.
The number of cases where this had happened was so rare it became difficult to analyze the phenomenon due to the small sample size.
But…Why did such a rare event appear in front of us? I wasn’t just unlucky; my luck was wretched.
“We’ll need to request backup as soon as possible…” Although Seo Young-woon had experience participating in Field missions, he also puttered helplessly around in front of the gate.
Furthermore… the Cosmic Gate led to the notorious 19th floor.
“If we had to get caught in something like this, why that floor…” I muttered.
If we were going to follow Cho Sung-hyun inside, we had to hurry.
If I remembered correctly, in the wave-assault type 1 19th-floor hunters had to survive by avoiding hazards for a fixed amount of time.
Among the incoming enemies, there were many undead-type opponents that many players found difficult to counter.
Although Cho Sung-hyun was an A-class damage dealer, he could do nothing by himself.
‘Can we even raid that floor with this small number of people?’
I heard that the team that cleared the floor had a difficult time.
It may be wise to wait for reinforcements.
Seo Young-woon and Cha Taeyang waited patiently for my decision as I was the party leader.
“There’s a slim chance that Cadet Cho Sung-hyun would survive alone in that place.
We’ll have to go inside.”
“I heard that immediately after an interference phenomenon occurs, the floor’s difficulty will temporarily rise.
Can we really do this?” Seo Young-woon asked.
“I saw an interview with ‘Charity’ Guild, the group that raided the 19th floor.
I heard that there were several safe zones.
If we utilize those well, we’ll be able to hold out until reinforcements arrive,” I said.
We’d have to take risks either way.
Seo Young-woon furrowed his brows.
At this moment, Cho Sung-hyun’s chances of survival were decreasing by the second.
We had to hurry.
I placed my hand on Cha Taeyang’s shoulder as she looked at me with anxious eyes.
“This is pretty startling for your debut mission, hm? It’s dangerous, so Hunter Cha Taeyang should wait for us here.
The reinforcements will be here soon, so don’t worry.”
Cha Taeyang looked plaintively up at me before shaking her head, “No, I want to go too–after all, Unni is going.
Why are you only telling me to sit out? I can be useful as well!”
I was struck speechless.
Cha Taeyang swept across the battlefield with her fists covered in blue flames.
As someone that merely covered her from behind, it was a bit difficult for me to justify stopping her.
Even Seo Young-woon came forward to persuade her, but Cha Taeyang remained stubborn.
She declared, swinging her gloved fists, “You said it was dangerous! I’ll protect Unni.
Then, you must never act alone.
You can’t jump into the range of something dangerous to protect me.
Promise me that you’ll put your own safety first, no matter the circumstances.”
“That’s right! Taeyang-ah~ Listen carefully to what Kim-seobang says! Promise that you won’t do anything dangerous!”
Then, let’s go.” I really didn’t want to bring a young child into the dungeon.
But, to be frank, I couldn’t help but breathe a sigh of relief when she insisted on accompanying us.
At this point, I’d even be willing to accept if a cat wanted to lend their paw. 2
‘Actually, the real problem isn’t Cha Taeyang.
It’s me.’ Though I happened to be the party leader, I would be the least helpful member.
I’d be satisfied if I didn’t hold them back.
As these sort of habitual pessimistic thoughts flew across my brain, I steeled my resolve.
I didn’t have time for this.
I clutched the bow in my left hand and headed for the gate
[Entering the 19th floor, ‘The Necromancer’s Mansion.’
– Current number of entrants: 4
※ As this floor is connected with the field, ‘The Wizard’s Garden (C),’ the difficulty has been increased.]
[Main Quest, ‘Dancing with the dead (B+),’ is now beginning.
–Clear Condition: Survival
–Time Remaining: 01:53:19]
“I see you retained enough rationality not to forget the proper code of conduct.”
As soon as we entered the World’s Towers, Cho Sung-hyun rushed at us.
His bronzed skin went pale, as if he had been extremely startled.
I was worried that he would have panicked and started wandering around the floor but, fortunately, he was waiting for us in front of the gate.
After confirming the young student’s safety, we separated into two teams and began to look around.
Though the surroundings gave off a shabby, old feeling, we clearly had entered into an alternate version of the greenhouse we had just left.
Broken glass, bent doors, withered plants, and squeaky hinges… Unlike the field, this greenhouse, along with the old mansion which could clearly be seen in the distance, exuded a bleak atmosphere.
“It feels ominous here.
It’s full of dead energy,” I murmured.
“Ugh, I’ve never smelled something so horrible before.”
‘A bad smell? But, I don’t smell anything?’
Chae Taeyang looked disgusted, smelling something I couldn’t even sense.
[In 3 minutes, the Monster Wave will begin!]
“Everyone, hurry up and check your status and consumables.”
“Hunter Yoon Gaho, where is the nearest safe zone?”
“We’ll have to go towards the mansion.
There’s no safe zone around here.”
As I left the greenhouse, I checked the list of prepared, memorized skills.
‘Grant Attribute’ was one of my basic skills.
This filial skill allowed me entrance into the [Wilderness Guild], but, in this situation, it could possibly become a headache.
I could not use this skill unless I had prepared it in advance.
‘How long do we have left?’
I was lucky.
Thanks to my party members, who had run wild on the field mission, I still had quite a few uses of my skills left.
If I had this much, I wouldn’t get in the party’s way.
“Activate, ‘Cat Walk.'”
[Your agile, nimble movements resemble a predatory beast!]
After chanting a lame phrase, my body became lighter.
As the time counter ticked down, the dirt floor began to shake.
Chills ran down my spine when I thought how this vast plot of land would soon be swarmed by the undead.
The other party members must have shared my worries; their steps accelerated towards the mansion.
Our destination was a labyrinthian forest in between the mansion and the greenhouse.
The light leaked faintly through the leaves of the trees that formed the maze.
“Argh! What is this?” Cho Sung-Hyun screamed when he saw a wrist poking out of the soft ground.
I looked back at Cha Taeyang, worried that she might have been frightened by the gruesome sight.
Despite my worries, Cha Taeyang shook the hand with a curious look on her face.
“Hey, you should wash up a bit.
You stink a lot!”
“Taeyang-ah! That’s crazy!” The dokkaebi cried.
“So~rry~ Am I not allowed to be friends with them?”
“It’s a shell without a soul or ego.
Don’t touch it! You’re courting misfortune!”
Cha Taeyang became visibly sullen at her dokkaebi’s words.
As soon as I saw the crown of the undead’s head, the stench became potent enough for even my nose to pick up the fetid scent.
The safety zone was in the middle of the forest maze.
We had arrived at the forest without any problems, but soon we found ourselves wandering, unable to navigate to the center.
“Hey–we have 30 seconds left.
Is this really going to work?”
“Unni, we don’t have much time left.
Can’t we just go over these tree walls?”
You want to scamper over that 4 meter-high wall?
Just as I was about to respond to Cha Taeyang, I finally understood, ‘Ah, these people have surpassed human limits with the System’s help.’
There was still quite a distance to the safe zone.
Since I could use skills as well, it’s not as if I couldn’t follow behind, but there wasn’t a guarantee that I’d make it to the safety zone in time.
‘Should I send the others first…?’
Seo Young-woon, noticing my worries, suggested with an almost unwilling expression on his face, “We don’t have time to dilly-dally.
I’ll carry Hunter Yoon Gaho.
Before I could even react, Seo Young-woon scooped me up as if I was some luggage.
Soon afterwards, he jumped onto the maze’s walls.
Whenever Seo Young-woon leapt high and landed, his shoulder dug into the pit of my stomach.
“Hey, can you do that for me?”
I heard Cha Taeyang ask Cho Sung-hyun.
No one showed any overt panic, but everyone started moving incredibly fast after Seo Young-woon picked me up.
After what seemed like a few steps, the safe zone was before us–a small area, of about 5 meters in diameter, that shone white in the middle of an open clearing.
[10 seconds until the Monster Wave arrives!]
[You’ve entered a safe zone!]
That was close.
As soon as we entered the safe zone, Seo Young-woon hurled me onto the ground.
‘I understand why his name is ‘Seo Temperamental.'”
I wasn’t pleased with his actions, but, thanks to him, I had arrived at the safe area on time.
Grumbling, I brushed the dirt off my knees and observed the surroundings.
[The Monster Wave has started!]
[Safety Zone duration: 00:15:00]
Alongside the appearance of the system message, a thick fog settled throughout the entire mansion grounds; corpses silently clawed their way out of the ground.
Half-decomposed animal carcasses and skeleton soldiers appeared near us.
These demonic beasts tumbled against the walls of the safe zone.
Upon hearing the noise, more and more evil creatures swarmed towards us.
There were far more opponents than I had imagined.
‘Furthermore, the first safety zone only lasts for 15 minutes.
It’s just all too much–even from the very beginning!’
Of course, I couldn’t help but grumble under my breath.
Once used, the safety zone would be sealed.
In addition, following the general absurdity of the World’s Towers, the duration we could stay inside the safety zone would decrease over time while the Monster Waves came proportionately faster and faster.
“Hunter Yoon Gaho.”
“Yes, the situation looks quite dire,” I said tersely.
As a test, I shot an arrow at the nearest undead wolf.
The decomposed canine whined and retreated a few steps.
However, soon after, it rushed back towards us.
I shot several more monsters next to it, but the results were all similar.
These undead corpses were at least C-rank.
Seo Young-woon’s expression became grave.
Cha Taeyang, sitting at the border of the zone and watching the monsters, also looked up at me with anxious eyes.
My vision went dark.
There were a total of five safety zones that I knew about.
If no reinforcements came within that time, we’ll be wiped out.
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