The party soon completely disappeared after the Warp Gate pulsated with blue light. Everyone had managed to safely transfer out.
Had they left?
They left right?
Yup, they are gone.
Darkness began to fill out my surroundings. The Boss monster hardly cared at losing most of its prey as it growled and focused its attention on me. Using both my hands, I slowly pushed myself up. My body felt stiff all over as it has been quite a while since I’ve been tossed around like this. Standing up, I stretched my back and heard my joints twist and turn making that satisfying crackling sound.
I stared bemusedly at my excellent crossbow and let it drop. I had no use for it any longer. Clattering on the ground, the crossbow kicked up dust as it bounced on the ground. I stepped on it without hesitation.
I stared indifferently at the broken crossbow, all the while as I stretched out my hand at the spot the party dropped their gears. Raising my hand, I invoked my mana and cast telekinesis. An-hyun’s sword spun in the air as it flew into my hand.
Finally, a sword in my hands.
One of the unaccustomed feelings that dogged me through the Rite of Passage was that I was lacking a sword. In Hall Plain, the sword was my life. I always had a sword with me when I slept, when I ate and even when I was bathing. When I had given the sword to An-hyun, it was like losing a dear old friend.
This was almost over, I would soon be able to return to Hall Plain. How I longed for this moment. How I had yearned to return to that place. The dream had finally turned into reality when I grasped the Zero Code within my hand. That reality was just one step away and my heart heaved in anticipation.
My fervent emotions had awakened Hwajung that had settled within my heart. I felt like lava was flowing instead of my blood and my heart was pounding. My breath that had stopped, the heart that was long dead was renewed in a roaring fire. This was the opening act to a long battle.
The Boss monster howled its battle cry. I silently gazed at the sword in my hand. I had acquired abilities that could enable me to surpass my past self but there was no guarantee that I was the strongest. But I had no fear. Though I may fall into the abyss once again, I vowed to never give up. Calm, I raised my sword toward the Boss monster.
I held my sword with new resolve and the air exploded out around me.
Blade Master (Rank: Extra) has been activated.
The moment a blade is held, a corrective action is asserted onto every swing. Through years of experience and hard work, a multitude of achievement and class selection, the Ability has been adjusted upward by 2 Ranks.
Close Combat (Rank: A Plus) has been activated.
An Ability that surpassed the extreme of what people can do with a melee weapon. In close combat, it is impossible to be pushed back. Due to years of experience and hard work, with the current Class selection, the Ability has been adjusted upward by 1 Ranks.
I had changed my Class from Sword Master to Sword Specialist when I had returned to the past. I had Abilities related to the sword and a Class related to the sword. The difference of power with and without a sword was like heaven and earth. If my killing intent before was like a floating vapour, it was now a definite aura of <I will kill you>. This intent surrounded me and buffeted all around me like a wild storm.
In my eyes, this thing was so insignificant that it wasn’t even worth crushing it like a bug. Taking a step forward, the Boss monster took a step back. Well, it couldn’t be helped.
No matter how smart the monster was, it still possessed that animalistic instinct. The monster had already lost the will to fight, realising how far apart our level was.
My swordsmanship had its origins in Tai-Chi. Instead of using overwhelming power, the technique used the opponent’s own strength against him. This was the only way for me to overcome my lack of muscle strength compared to the other top-rated Players. To explain in more detail, it’s principal was based on Electrotherapy (targeting the soft spots) and Iyugeukkang (overcoming hardness with softness) to suppress the target through tranquil movement.
I slowly drew back my sword. I was going to strike before the monster’s brain could even register an attack. My posture was set as if I was about to unsheathe my sword. This made me look unprepared and defenceless.
This technique made it impossible for the opponent to predict the first line of attack. With a lightning speed attack, the opponent would be hit before it could even anticipate an attack or, in most cases, allowed me to take the initiative.
I prepared myself, aiming at the monster shivering before my eyes.
My sword cut through the air without hesitation.
“Begin debrief. That was a marvellous sword skill, Player Kim Su-hyun. Congratulations on surviving the Rite of Passage. After six days, sixteen hours, forty-two minutes and twenty-seven seconds you have earned the right to enter Hall Plain.”
With but a swing, the Boss monster was cut in half. When I returned to the Room of Summoning, those were the first things Seraph spoke when she saw me. She was still sitting lightly on top of that small altar, staring at me calmly as her wings waved gently by. Not even a week had passed since I last saw her but it had felt like an eternity.
I nodded stiffly and sat on the floor.
“What about the others?”
This was a bottomless pit of questions but the Rite of Passage was fundamentally different from Hall Plain. The Rite of Passage had no limitation on Player monitoring. This was clearly evident by Seraph’s comment about my play and I was certain she was tracking other such Players similar to myself.
“You do not have permission to access information on other Players.”
“I’m not asking about your three sizes, I just want you to tell if others are okay. Man, you are so touchy about this things.”
Seraph sighed deeply at my response and replied composedly.
“The Players An-hyun, An-sol, Lee Yu-jung and Kim Han-byeol have all been transferred within procedure to their Room of Summoning. They are all awaiting entrance to Hall Plain with their respective Angels.”
“I see. I presume they are learning about Hall Plain with the remaining time?”
“Knowledge of Hall Plain will not take that long to impart. Rather, the Players are been shown Classes and Abilities that are suitable for their characteristics. Player Kim Su-hyun, please do not regard yourself in a similar light to the other Players.”
I kept silence as I heard her explanation. In the past, I had managed to survive for seven days and was able to return to the Room of Summoning. When I arrived, I was taught the basics about Hall Plain and was able to select basic Player settings. Back then, it felt like I spent half a day.
“All the Players are transferred to Hall Plain simultaneously. Therefore, there is a need to wait for all the Players to qualify within the seven day period.”
“Then just send me on ahead...”
“That is not permissible.”
This wasn’t what I was hoping to hear. I had finished the Boss monster in record time so that I could enter Hall Plain as fast as possible. I had asked just in case but Seraph had cut me off before I could complete my request. I grumbled petulantly at Seraph.
“That means I have to stay here for a day and a half. Are you telling me I have to wait for that long? What should I do? Clap and play games with you?”
Despite my petulant manner, Seraph replied clearly.
“If you so desire it, I shall. But for those who passed the Rite of Passage early, a more detailed explanation of Hall Plain is provided.”
“Don’t want to hear it.”
“Then shall we clap hands and play games?”
“Ho… No. Let's just chat.”
I shook my head at Seraph’s earnest reply. There was no joking with this Angel. Since I had the time, I decided to ask her about some points that were bugging me about the Rite of Passage. Of course, I was going to be sarcastic. Seraph tilted her head thinking and then nodded her head.
“I felt this during the Rite of Passage but did you guys actually think about balance?”
A short answer from Seraph.
“... Let’s ignore the fact about being dropped in the middle of the forest and those Wraiths. But what the devil was up with that Boss monster by the Warp Gate? What kind of Rite of Passage does that? Prospective Players won’t be able to pass through at this rate.”
“Is there a problem?”
“If I wasn’t there, our party would have been wiped out. I just can’t understand the reasoning behind summoning a monster like that.”
Seraph replied without hesitation.
“The Rite of Passage is automatically balanced by the standard of Players summoned each time. Of course, during this run, we took particular care to exclude Player Kim Su-hyun. However, the number of exceptional Players that participated this time could be counted on five different hands.”
“That still doesn’t justify such powerful Boss monster. How do you expect Players who don’t even know how to use magic to beat such monster?”
“Beating it is impossible, a different approach is expected. The Boss monster is summoned randomly around two hundred and three hundred meters from the Warp Gate. Facing the monster alone is impossible. When there is a minimum of five people, it is expected that one in five will manage to reach the Warp Gate.”
Hearing Seraph’s explanation, I caught on immediately what she implied.
“... Then you are saying that four people are bait.”
I became speechless. But I understood the reasoning behind the Boss monster set up around the Warp Gate. The Player who survived needed to experience the sadness of losing their comrades. Such loss was common in Hall Plain and it might be better from them to experience the shock of loss now than later.
This left a bad taste in my mouth but I had nothing to say. I had turned back time because I couldn’t overcome the sense of loss. Letting out a loud sigh, I was about to change the topic when Seraph interjected first.
“I admit that there was some level of difficulty. For this, the four who had arrived first will be given a small amount of Gold Points as a reward.”
“... Oh? That means that our group arrive before anyone else. What about me?”
“Player Kim Su-hyun had arrived fifth. The aforementioned four people had arrived first concurrently. To each of these people, 2500 Gold Points are planned to be allocated as a reward.”
Oho. That’s good news. 2500 Gold Points is really helpful in the beginning. The Player exclusive shops that only accepted these Gold Points was extremely useful. My eyes sparkled.
“Gold points. Give me.”
“Unfortunately, it is only given to the first arrival. Originally, it was intended for one person to be award ten thousand Gold Points. Coincidentally, with four people having arrived first, the reward was divided into four portions. Player Kim Su-hyun is not applicable.”
Was it? I nodded regretfully. There was no need to worry about money if I exchanged 2500 Gold Points to Hall Plain Gold. Or rather, I could even acquire some beginner equipment. Seeing my despondent expression, Seraph looked at me uncomprehendingly.
“Player Kim Su-hyun. You seem quite remorseful. The reward is no more than 2500 points.”
“Gold Points don’t grow on trees you know.”
“That is correct. However, Player Kim Su-hyun currently possesses exactly 3 784 720 Gold Points. I do not believe you need to dwell on 2500 Points.”
Been meaning to post this yesterday but I didn’t have the opportunity till now. My apologies.