ETH – Ch 49

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“I get the feeling we’re interrupting something…”

Han Joonseok said with an awkward face as he sat next to Jung Sooah.

Soon after, Manager Kim and glasses girl arrived together. Then finally, helmet guy came too. Dressed in a suit, he seemed to be drawing glances from people. You couldn’t really say that he was conventionally handsome. But his good physique and large scar across his face made him look impressive and manly.

As soon as everyone arrived and settled down, I got straight to the point.

“The reason for my asking everyone to come out here today is to discuss our next raid.”

“Can’t you just plan everything like you’ve been doing so far? To be honest, you are the most experienced and informed out of all of us.”

Manager Kim said. He was right. I had loads of info up in my head, and I knew just how I needed to use it. And I also knew if I continued to push forward as the lead, no one would have a problem with that.

“What I wanted to discuss today was more on how we should balance out the party.”

“So that was it.”

Han Joonseok responded. He was a sharp one.

“What does that mean?”

At Cho Youngoo’s question, Han Joonseok responded,

“He’s saying that nobody else is able to keep up with his ability. We’re basically just holding on to his ankles every raid.”

“Then…then…”

Cho Youngoo looked in my direction with wavering eyes. If I were to thin out the herd, the first to be chopped are Cho Youngoo and glasses girl. Everyone knew this. They were both still level 1s.

Gulp.

But I didn’t want to just chop them here and now. We had shared some difficult battles together. There were plenty of strong people in the world, but there weren’t too many people you could trust. If they were willing to stick with me, I had every intention of helping to bring out their strengths so that they can grow and keep up.

This wasn’t an entirely unselfish act on my part. If I could keep fusing items like this and arming my party members with said items…that would allow them to stay while also strengthening the entire team.

Human resources are the biggest asset.

What you cannot do yourself is made all the easier with help from others.

“I have made my decision. First Mr. Cho Youngoo.”

“Yes! Party head!”

He yelled out.

“…You don’t have to answer so loudly. What I wanted to discuss was the level 3 no name shield that we obtained recently.”

“You’re not saying you’ll loan it to me?”

I nodded my head.

“A level 3 no name shield is currently priced at 500,000 dollars. I was thinking of loaning it to you for 5,000 dollars per use. What do you think…”

“That sounds fine.”

“This is not something for you to decide so quickly. Borrowing it for 5,000 dollars could result in a loss for you.”

“I decided to be a hunter because I wanted to be a hunter..not so that I can earn a lot of money. If I can just join you on raids, then I do not see how I can possibly call it a loss no matter the outcome.”

“…understood.”

This was a shield I had no use for anyway. You could say this was a mutually beneficial agreement.

I looked at glasses girl next. She was pretty much an extra. And in reality, rarely gave the team any true value.

“And for glasses girl…”

“I’m sorry. I…need money.”

I could see her wringing the hands she had atop her lap. She was carrying the financial burden of an entire family on her shoulders. I held the future of all those people in my hands.

“Then please tell us what value you bring to this party. If you cannot convince everyone here, I cannot justify keeping you on board.”

“I’ll work hard. I’ll do my very best.”

“That’s not enough.”

“But the only thing I can do is my best. I can only put in my best effort.”

“No. I believe that you have a talent.”

“I’m sorry?”

I planned on keeping glasses girl. And I did have good reason for it. At least a good enough reason to convince everyone else to keep her on the team.

I looked to everyone and said,

“Yeonkyoung has a tremendous skill when it comes to archery.”

“Tremendous…skill?”

Everyone looked stumped.

Her skill was in her rapid fire shooting abilities.

If she could just raise the level of her bow and skill, then her accuracy and destructive power will undoubtedly rise as well. But there was no item or skill that could make a person a faster shot. This was because being able to reload a bow and shoot quickly could only be earned through hard work and training.

You can be a bad shot. That can be aided by the right skill. It’s fine if you are lacking in attack power. The right weapon will do that for you. But rapid fire loading is not something that can be improved by way of a skill or equipment. You can only load a bow quickly and accurately enough to shoot with practice.”

“But I don’t have the money to…”

“I will loan you equipment at a price you can afford. But on one condition.”

“What condition…?”

“An exclusive contract.”

“Exclusive contract?”

“Yeh. That means you cannot hunt with any other party. And if we set a date for a raid, you will be obligated to drop all other engagements.”

“…Is that it?”

“This is an investment I am making for what I expect from you in the future.”

“..Thank you.”

“SunbehOppa. Thanks.”

Jung Sooah was wiping away tears.

Ah. This is why you can’t take girls anywhere…

Sniff.

Cho Youngoo seemed to be tearing up too.

Guess we had one more girl.

“Oh, and Mr. Han Joonseok.”

“I’m fine.”

“…thank you.”

He had invested 100,000 dollars to purchased the stalker arrow. I was prepared for him to feel a certain way from my giving such a generous deal to a party member who was also an archer. I was thankful to him for saying those two words.

We went over the issue with the ores quickly enough. We decided that I would just pay them extra via the contribution split instead of going through the process of selling the ores and then doing the split. After we finished discussion all of this, I felt more at peace.

It felt like I had pushed off a heavy rock that had been resting on my chest.

Jung Sooah spoke.

“SunbehOppa, you’re a good person.”

“Don’t try to butter me up for anything. I don’t have money.”

“Oh I’ll butter you up.”

PFTTT!

Cho Youngoo spit out the coffee he had been drinking.

***

We decided to choose a different dungeon for the next raid. This was because there was a high chance the same irregular that appeared before would appear again. Something we learned from our experience with the cave wolf.

So we settled on the Baeksapyoung dungeon. It was a dungeon we were familiar with, and I also wanted to give helmet guy an opportunity to fight with his irregular. I made this decision based on my assessment that our team now possessed enough ability to be able to take care of the level 4 monster.

But, as usual, a problem arose.

Though we had arrived right on time, we were told that our entrance was denied.

“Why is that?”

“The party before you has not yet come out. It seems they may have run into a problem.”

“By problem you mean…?”

Though the thought of an irregular came to mind, there was also a strong enough correlation that no matter how fast a party cleared a dungeon…an irregular usually did not appear if I was not in the team.

This was what has happened up to now, so I was fairly confident this was how it would continue. It was probably some other reason.

The most common monster to appear at the Baeksapyoung dungeon was the lizardman. Then the armored anteater. But since their fighting styles, strengths, and weaknesses were all known factors..they weren’t too hard to fight.

“We don’t know anything as of yet. Our dungeon operating team has gone inside to investigate.”

“Didn’t it already pass 10 minutes? It feels like they’re a little late in coming back.”

Jung Sooah said.

“What the heck have you been doing this whole time? This dungeon is a flat sand terrain so it is pretty expansive. Just looking for the target party would probably take 30 minutes minimum.”

“Then we shouldn’t be standing around like this. Every available body should go in to find them.”

“But we don’t know exactly what happened inside. If we incur more victims…”

A dungeon operator spoke.

More victims?

I asked.

“Is there something you know that you’re not sharing?”

“That is…do you know about team Ezekiel?”

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