ETH – Ch 54

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-DingDong.

The doorbell rang. There was only one person who would come by my house at this time of the night.

“What did I tell you about coming around whenever you….”

-Bow.

“Good evening.”

“Uh….”

It was glasses girl.

I let her in the house with some confusion. The house was a mess but, since she was the one who came without giving me a heads up, I figured it was her problem.

I made some coffee and set a cup in front of her. She looked a bit anxious.

“So what brings you here?”

“Just…just….”

It seemed she had something she needed to say.

“You have something you need to say right?”

“That, that’s true…”

Jesus, I was starting to get real curious at this point.

Was it that?

“Is it by any chance….”

“Yes?”

Glasses girl raised her head in surprise.

“Are you here to talk about the exclusivity contract?”

“What?”

“If it’s that, you don’t have to worry too much about it. Since you didn’t technically take the item yet and we didn’t write up and sign the contract yet. If you have a change of heart just let me know right now.”

“That, that’s…”

“If you want to join a different team, you’re free to do so. But I’ll say one thing. There are teams just as bad or worse than team Ezekiel all over the country now. You’re a decent hunter but, at your current level, you do realize you’re not really too strong right? It’s going to be hard for you to join a decent team. I’m not saying this for selfish reasons – I’m saying this as your friend.”

“….yes.”

Glasses girl looked at me with a blank face and nodded her head. I figured this would be enough to sway her.

“Then are we done here?”

“That’s…well…the reason I came here today is…”

Slam!

“SunbehOppa! I’m here!”

Jung Sooah burst through the front door and came in. Seeing how she was holding bags in both hands, it seemed she planned to hang out all day at my house and maybe sleep over again.

“Where did you learn that bad habit of opening the door to other peoples’ homes whenever you want?”

“The door was already unlocked. Oh? Yeonkyoung’s here? What’s going on?”

“That’s….I wanted to say thank you for all that party head has done for me…”

Glasses girl started looking through her bag and took something out.

It was a bag of Kimchi and varieties of other side dishes.

“….What’s all this?”

“My mother personally made all these side dishes to give to party head. I told her how you lived alone and so she made them all.”

“Oh she didn’t need to go through all that trouble…I can just buy it.”

That was what I said, but I was secretly happy inside.

I was especially happy to see homemade marinated meat. If I wanted to eat something like this outside, I would need to pay $10 for just one serving.

Just because I was making good money now didn’t mean I wanted to use it all willy nilly.

“Um….I also brought something too.”

“What? You too?”

“Look look look.”

Slam.

She had brought a box full of spam, hams, instant noodles, variety tuna cans, and frozen dumplings.

Wow….such a difference.

“I came to make you food today. I felt bad for always bumming food at your house.”

“Uh….since the shelf life for all this is pretty long, let’s eat the food that Yeonkyoung brought over today.”

“I’ll cook.”

Glasses girl got up from her seat. Then Jung Sooah said.

“You know how to cook?”

“Yes, I learned from my mom at home.”

Now that she said this, I saw that there was a fresh wound on her hand. It wasn’t something she would get from her bow string. Surely she didn’t just learn it so that she could especially cook something today.

“I’m going to make food too.”

“We both know you don’t know how to cook.”

“I know how to make instant ramen ok?”

“No. I think I’d prefer to eat this than that…”

“Hmph. I guess you just don’t know how delicious my Jjajang Ramen tastes. Just don’t be surprised by its deliciousness after you’ve had it.”

She said this as she folded up both her sleeves.

My kitchen was small.

There was no way the both of them could cook in my kitchen comfortably together. They looked incredibly cramped.

I didn’t think they needed to go through all the trouble but, since I was the one doing the eating, I decided to just see how it would end up.

As they continued their shenanigans in the kitchen, I looked through the internet news.

The incident from the Baeksapyoung dungeon made the main page of the news.

[38 hunters from Team Ezekiel all dead in dungeon. Have still been unable to find the bodies…]

The Baeksapyoung dungeon was now closed.

The dungeon inspectors looked for the dead bodies for days but there was no way they would find anything. Because they had evaporated – down to the very last strand of hair.

[There is word that another similar incident had also occurred at the Bookhansan dungeon as well. According to the officials…]

The news seemed to have made the connection with the Bookhansan dungeon incident.

I guess it should be expected since all trace of hunters had disappeared from both scenes.

I’m sure that soon the police will make the connection that our team had been present both times.

All that ran through my head was that it would be annoying.

But that was it. Because no matter how much they looked, they wouldn’t find anything incriminating.

***

Oddly enough, Jung Sooah’s Jjajang Ramen really hit the spot.

Of course the food that glasses girl brought made me happy too.

Because you could taste the care that goes into homemade food after not having tasted any for a long time.

The problem was that my stomach couldn’t handle eating the entirety of what these two girls had made.

And I could see them watching me eat the entire time.

Is this a new form of torture? Are they trying to cause me indigestion?

“You guys aren’t eating?”

“I’ll eat after watching SunbehOppa eat everything.”

“I’m not that hungry right now.”

Somehow I was able to eat everything they had made.

In all my life, this was the most I had eaten in one sitting.

If there was a digestion upgrade from my effort skill, I’m sure I would have leveled up.

“Then I’ll do the dishes.”

“Huh? I was going to do it.”

Jung Sooah hurriedly grabbed some dishes and followed me into the kitchen. Behind her, glasses girl had picked up a few dishes and trotted into the kitchen too.

“It’s fine. Just go kill time on the computer or read a comic on the bed or something. I’ll do this.”

“Ok.”

“Ok.”

The two of them finally relented.

When I came into the room after doing the dishes, I saw the two of them rummaging through my “New Folder”.

Haha.

“…..Just what are you guys doing?”

“Ah?”

Jung Sooah said as she turned around in surprise. Glasses girl said.

“So I guess party head organizes things in this manner.”

“Because I have so much paperwork. Organizing it all in alphabetical order caused some problems.”

I had tons of paperwork on dungeon locations, monsters, and items. They were organized by levels and then again by order of danger.

Of course general information on dungeons are easy to find but that folder was an amalgamation of information that isn’t easy to come by.

Sooah made a face as if she was annoyed about something.

“What?”

“Isn’t this where you’re supposed to hide like porn and stuff?”

“This girl…what kind of guy do you take me for….”

There’s no way I would hide that kind of stuff in such an obvious spot.

I made it so that even if you did a word search, you wouldn’t find anything.

And the whole reason I did that much is because of her. Stop making my single life so complicated. Jeez.

“Waaa.”

Jung Sooah lay down on my bed and started going through a comicbook as if it were her own home.

Glasses girl sat at my desk and resumed surfing the internet.

I somehow started feeling as if I were the one out of place in my own room. What the hell.

“Today’s a rest day. Don’t you guys have plans?”

“Speaking of rest days, don’t you have any plans?”

“I like staying home. I don’t like going out anyway. I’m an introvert. And even if I did go out, there’d be nothing for me to do. It’s not like I have any friends to hang out with either.”

“You have a friend right here.”

“Here too.”

The both of them raised their hands.

“So are you saying we should go out and do something?”

“I mean the weather is nice – maybe we should go out to the park.”

I nodded my head. I guess that could be fun.

***

Swoosh Swoosh!

“I’m wearing a dress..”

“Come on! Proper posture!”

Tap.

“Ok.”

Sooah responded as she lowered her upper body.

Since we were coming out to the park, we decided to get some practice in. Because if you didn’t practice these kinds of things often, your body starts forgetting.

I made glasses girl do some shooting with the practice bow I had from my college days.

“How peaceful.”

I finally felt ok. It was the first time I felt so uncomfortable in my own home. There was a weird kind of aura in that room that I couldn’t figure out. But this was good.

While the two of them kept at it, I looked through my manual.

The item storage was already full. I checked my stats next.

Skill type: Effort (0). Skill has the ability to use reward points to increase physical abilities.

Extra skill/option: None

Proficiency: 19

Reward Points: 4530

Abilities: Strength 200, Endurance 300, Reflexes 150, Focus 150, Defense 150

Upgrade: 26/100

I had saved up quite a bit of reward points.

I should have used them to raise up my abilities at Baeksapyoung (Flat Sand Bar) dungeon, but things got so crazy I wasn’t able to get around to doing it.

Luckily I didn’t have to go through all the crazy training to raise my abilities anymore. I was actually worried for a moment that I might have had to run a cross country marathon at some point.

Hm. What should I raise up next though.

Not including Endurance, I could probably raise up everything else at least two times with the points I had. Since I have some reliable equipment now like the Honcheon sword, I guess it would make more sense to raise up reflexes and defense rather than strength.

I pressed the reflexes tab.

Tap.

Whoa. It felt like I really pressed on something real. So real.

  • Would you like to use your reward points towards increasing your reflexes?

Yes, No. Two options appeared. I pushed my finger to the “yes” option.

  • You have successfully increased your reflexes. Proficiency has been raised to 20. Level 2 dungeons are now scheduled to be erased.

“What?”

What the hell does that mean?

“SunbehOppa?”

“Partyhead?”

Both girls stared at me with concern in their eyes.

This is wrong.

We finally came to a point where we could confidently clear a level 2 dungeon.

But now it’s saying they’re going to be erased…? So we have to start from scratch again?

SHIT SHIT SHIT! EFFING SHIT!

Shouldn’t they at least give us some time to get used to clearing level 2 dungeons and gain more experience so that we don’t die in level 3s?

“Cancel! Cancel! No. Shit. What the hell am I supposed to do now?”

Since there wasn’t a cancel button, I kept yelling the word out loud like a crazy person. But the manual didn’t respond.

I hurriedly took off the glasses. Maybe if I’m not wearing it, it’ll stop whatever crazy thing it was trying to do.

Like hell.

I put the glasses back on.

***

Reflexes 200, Reward Points 2530.

Proficiency 20.

***

I should have realized the correlation earlier. It was all there. Right? It makes sense. As I increase the proficiency of my skill, it resulted in erasing of dungeons.

Now that I think about it, it was when I clocked in 10 in my proficiency that Level 1 dungeons had disappeared. 10 minutes hadn’t even passed when I got the call from Han Joonseok with that bit of happy news.

Ring!

Yeh. Like now.

“Hello?”

-Party head! BAD NEWS!…

“Level 2 dungeons are all gone?”

-What? What are you talking about? What do you mean level 2 dungeons are gone?

Hm? What the hell’s going on then?

“Wait. Then what do you mean bad news?”

-The Yellow Sea…the Yellow Sea disappeared!

“….what?”

I almost dropped my phone.

***

Once we got back to my place and searched the internet, Han Joonseok had gotten it wrong.

It’s not that the sea disappeared.

Land had appeared out of nowhere.

“What in the world…”

Jung Sooah had her mouth wide open.

The new land that had appeared was huge.

It was strange that new land of this size had appeared without so much as an earthquake or tsunammi.

Just looking at this it was obvious that this was not natural.

“This is crazy.”

The news was lit. I wonder if they had felt this way 50 years ago when the monsters had first shown up.

“They’re saying it’s not just in our country…”

In Africa, a new island appeared next to Madagascar.

In North America, the Yucatan Peninsula was now connected by land with Florida, Alaska, and Siberia.

“Wow…does this mean we need a new world map?”

Jung Sooah said in wonder.

“We’re lucky if that’s the extent of it…”

It wasn’t clear if this was it. It probably wasn’t.

“Isn’t it good that we now have more land? Our country was too small as it was.”

“No. We have a lot of land…we just can’t use it properly because of all the monsters.”

I continued surfing the internet for some answers.

***

-[A number of monsters found on the new lands. These monsters are found to be low level monsters of levels 1 and 2s. None others are reported to have been found as of yet.]

-[About 10 minutes ago, coinciding with the upheaval of the new continents, disappearance of level 2 dungeons have been confirmed. It is reported that the government feels the two incidents are related in some manner and an investigation is under way.]

***

Damn it. So the level 2 dungeons did disappear.

The government had decided to name the new land as “The West Sea”.

But now there was the not so small matter of Korea being connected to China.

The idea of joint management of the new land was quickly ignored.

China became so adamant that the new land was theirs that they deployed a large number of hunters to forcefully seize it.

And the Korean government immediately followed suit.

Then the Chinese government made the threat that they would not trade any agriculture to which the Korean government threatened to remove all hunter markets.

And so finally China was forced to take a step back.

At the time, the removal of hunter markets would spell disaster for China.

So in the end, they came to a kind of agreement.

***

“So what happened?”

Cho Youngoo asked. We had all met up at the Cafe in Shinchon to talk about the recent events.

“It seems they will be sending out as many hunters as they can to the West Sea. In terms of hunters, Korea has the most and of the highest levels.”

“Well, that’s all thanks to Wheeseung teacher.”

He was the first real hunter…and the strongest of them all.

It was thanks to him that Korea was able to corner the hunter market and raise the levels in a shorter amount of time than other countries – though most of them were at level 3 and 4.

Anyone at and above a level 5 were considered the best of the best.

These were the hunters who had been raising their skills since 50 years ago.

“In general, our hunter power is at least 3 times that of those in China. But the problem is…”

“That China’s population is 30 times that of Korea.”

Han Joonseok finished.

Since the day of the disaster when the monsters first appeared, the population of Korea near the Yellow Sea had stayed at a steady 20,000 while the population of China along their border was at 500,000.

“But it would be difficult for China to exert their power.”

“How is that? Now that the level 1 and level 2 dungeons are gone, even if we just stationed those hunters who are now out of jobs at the West Sea…the sheer population of China…”

“Well the real problem is whether or not the West Sea is even worth fighting over.”

Everyone became quiet and lost in thought at what I had just said.

There was plenty of land filled with monsters.

But that wasn’t the issue.

The issue was that we couldn’t lay around while we had perfectly good land snatched out from under us…even if it was riddled with monsters.

“Well, even if it isn’t worth fighting over…we now have no choice to go to that land. Since all the level 2 dungeons are gone now, that’s the only place we can really hunt now. Who knows, maybe the hunt might be even better since they did say that only level 1 and level 2 monsters were seen there. But before that.”

I looked to Jong Sawon.

“Can you come with us?”

“…I will do whatever you ask.”

“The Yellow Sea is very big. We might not bump into that monster for another 6 months.”

“It doesn’t matter. No matter the species, a monster is a monster.”

“Understood. Then we’re all agreed.”

“But would we be able to move in the same parties? Don’t you think the government will likely form groups themselves based on equipment and skill levels?”

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