The Hero Returns

Chapter 20



Chapter 20: Chapter 20


“He’s here!”


“Really? Now?”


“Yeah. He’s a C-rank awakener.”


“Are you sure he’s not just phishing information? You uploaded that post on Abyss Online.”


“It couldn’t be. I definitely said those who contacted needlessly would be sued.”


“Well, if that’s the case…”


No one would probably play a prank like this with the risk of getting sued. It meant that they had really found the last member of the team.


“What’s his name?”


“It’s special. You should have heard of it too.”


“Who is it?”


“Kim Su-hyeun.”


“Kim Su-hyeun? Really?”


Any awakener would have known of the name. Kim Su-hyeun was the rookie who had been breaking records starting from the lower floors. The other reason why he got famous was also that he was a hidden figure without any rank.


“No, that can’t be him. He’s still a C-rank. If he’s as good as the rumors say, he should be at least a B-rank.”


“True. So two of the same name?”


“Probably?”


“He doesn’t belong to any guild?”


“Yeah, he doesn’t belong to any. There’s not much information on his profile either.”


While typing on his smartphone to reply to the other party, Lee Ju-ho said, “This guy is just right.”


It was the new year. The year 2020.


Su-hyeun’s feeling this morning was very different from yesterday’s. Impossible as it was, he had hoped for this day to not arrive.


“I’ll be back.”


In the wee hours of the morning, Su-hyeun had his breakfast and finished his preparations. As if Shin Su-yeong wasn’t scheduled to work for the day, she yawned and returned to her room after preparing breakfast for Su-hyeun.


“Are you coming back late?”


“Maybe.”


“Give me a call if you’re staying out late.”


There weren’t many times when Su-hyeun returned early in the past year. He came back even later than Shin Su-yeong, who always returned home late after work.


“Okay. I’ll drop a text.”


Su-hyeun said those words and left the house. In fact, he, too, had no idea how long it would take this time.


Su-hyeun took the subway and bus. He finally arrived in front of Gwangju’s City Hall in Gyeonggi Province. Su-hyeun fished out his phone and dialed a number. Then, a group of people who gathered on one side of the City Hall waved towards him.


“Over here.”


There were a total of six people waving at him. They were the team of awakeners who Su-hyeun would be entering the orange dungeon with.


“Are you Kim Su-hyeun?”


“Yes, it’s nice to meet you.”


“Yes, it’s nice to have met you. I’m Lee Ju-ho. Over here…”


Lee Ju-ho introduced the others who were on the team. It seemed that both Lee Ju-ho and Kim Ba-reum knew each other, and the others joined them for the first time at the dungeon.


“Are you possibly that Kim Su-hyeun…”


A female C-rank awakener, Lee Eun-mi, looked at Su-hyeun with sparkly eyes. Indeed, the name Kim Su-hyeun had always brought about huge interest.


It wasn’t only her. The others — seemingly with the same thoughts — pricked up their ears, curious to hear Su-hyeun’s answer.


But that answer was filled in not by Su-hyeun, but Lee Ju-ho.


“Aye, he shouldn’t be. Kim Su-hyeun here had recently received his C-rank evaluation not long ago.”


“Ah, so…”


“Aha.”


Their faces were saying “Of course.”


Su-hyeun laughed lightly at their reactions. He felt lucky that they understood immediately, and he did not have to come up with excuses every time.


“You’ve requested for the dungeon attack party with the institute, right?”


“Yes. I did it yesterday.”


“What is your position? Please give an introduction of which skills or weapons you usually use.”


“I usually use the sword and my auxiliary weapon is the spear. I don’t have any items yet, so the sword I borrowed from the institute is all I have.”


A Property of Dimension Order Form was needed to bring items from the Tower of Trials into reality. It was tough for awakeners below rank B to obtain the order form, as a substantial amount of achievement points was required as payment. Thus, Su-hyeun could only use the sword which he had loaned from the institute for now. Although it was a considerable amount to rent, if he joined in on one dungeon attack, he would receive enough to pay for it.


“If this is your first time at a dungeon attack, you might be slightly confused. I will explain to you more about dungeons on the way there.”


“Thank you.”


As they started heading to the dungeon, Lee Ju-ho shared various stories with Su-hyeun. Most were tips related to dungeon attacks, but amongst them, quite a few portions were mixed with foolish advice — it seemed as though an elementary student was teaching a college professor. Su-hyeun only felt frustration throughout the explanation.


They hopped on two vehicles that were prepared for them and arrived near the Yashi Mountain, where the dungeon appeared. The dungeon’s entrance was a cave with a glaring orange light. A few supervisors were on call at the entrance of the dungeon, where it was marked with an off-limits sign. Lee Ju-ho approached them as the party’s leader and started with the procedures. Several conditions had to be met to enter a public dungeon, and the appropriate procedures were laid out.


Kim Ye-eun, a short-haired female, walked towards Su-hyeun and said, “Surprisingly, you don’t seem to be nervous.”


She seemed to be around Su-hyeun’s age and despite not wearing any makeup, it was clear she had a fair-toned and pretty looking face. Although the average age of awakeners wasn’t that high, they were still quite young.


Su-hyeun replied in a low whisper to her as she approached. “I’m actually quite nervous.”


“Really? It doesn’t seem like it at all.”


“It doesn’t usually show on my face.”


“Really? We’re quite similar. I’m quite nervous, too.” Ye-eun shuddered quite a bit after those words.


“Why are you so nervous?” Su-hyeun asked. “Is this also your first dungeon attack or…”


“No, it’s not like that.”


“Then what is it?”


“Actually, those people make me feel a little uncomfortable,” Ye-eun said, pointing to Lee Ju-ho and the other members of the party.


Su-hyeun narrowed his eyes at Ye-eun’s answer.


“How so? Did those people turn you into an outcast or something?”


“It’s not that, but…”


Ye-eun shook her head.


“Nothing, it’s just a feeling.”


“Hmm…”


Su-hyeun nodded his head at Ye-eun’s reply, seemingly to understand her point of view. Delighted, Ye-eun patted his shoulder lightly.


“Indeed, we have the same thoughts, right?”


“Ah, just a little…” Su-hyeun’s words trailed off. There was no other reason to continue, but there was one thing that he was sure of.


<>


As he looked at the glaring orange dungeon entrance, Su-hyeun couldn’t help but give a suspicious look.


<>


There was a minimum requirement of seven members in a party to enter the dungeon. The reason why the dungeon was the talk of the town was that nearly all members of the party had died.


But still, there was a point of doubt there. Seven members entered the dungeon, but only six were reported dead.


<>


It could have been a planned attack. There was no way of knowing what had happened at this place. Su-hyeun had no intentions of finding out either. Even so, it wasn’t his role to just leave the dungeon alone either.


<>


The first start to the year 2020.


As everyone got excited about the new year’s arrival, lives were ended, bodies crouched in the dungeon without anyone’s knowledge.


The dungeon’s difficulty level was measured using colors ranging from red to purple. There were a total of seven levels.


The lowest level was the red color, and the highest level was the purple color. As the color got closer to purple, the dungeon’s difficulty got higher.


But at this period in time, dungeons with blue-colored difficulty and higher rarely appeared here. To Su-hyeun’s knowledge, the highest difficulty, the purple dungeon, had only appeared once.


Fafnir.


The monster that was brought from the end of human history — it was the dungeon where Fafnir appeared.


<>


Su-hyeun looked around the dungeon’s surroundings as he stepped in. The dungeon’s entrance actually also acted as a door to another dimension. There was no rule that the cave where the dungeon’s entrance appeared also determined that the dungeon itself was a cave. Perhaps it was coincidental, or for other reasons, that the entrance of the dungeon assumed that of a cave.


Of course, the inside of the dungeon was a lot more spacious than the original cave.


“It’s quite chilly and cold in here.”


The rest nodded at Kim Ye-eun’s comment. Although it was a step apart, inside the dungeon was an entirely different dimension from reality.


Chilly weather was similar to the start of the winter season. Although the awakeners did not feel extremely cold, it was the atmosphere within the dungeon that made their skin more sensitive to their surroundings.


“Let’s head inside first. I’ll take the lead from here.”


Lee Ju-ho started walking in front. Amongst all seven members of the party, Lee Ju-ho was the only B-rank awakener. As one B-rank awakener had the power that was equivalent to five or six C-rank awakeners, it didn’t come off as suspicious that he should lead the party.


<>


Su-hyeun locked his eyes on both of them.


<>


Considering the relationship amongst all the members here, only the two of them were the closest. If one of the awakeners were murdered, it would be natural to be suspicious of Lee Ju-ho, who was the highest-ranked awakener amongst them.


<>


The possibilities of either suspicion were valid. Since there were no leads in this case, Su-hyeun had to openly consider all the possibilities that he could come up with.


Su-hyeun carefully observed each and every member from all sides while following the group from behind. Then, Lee Ju-ho suddenly stopped in his tracks.


“Please stop for a moment.”


Step—


As per Lee Ju-ho’s orders, all members came to a stop behind him. He had sensed something unusual right over the corner just ahead. Lee Ju-ho carefully walked over and stood beside it.


Lee Ju-ho peeked over the corner slightly and looked back at the members with widened eyes.


“What is it?” Lee Eun-mi, with the most impatient personality, asked. Lee Ju-ho bit his lips lightly and answered.


“…I think that something must have gone wrong here.”


“What do you mean?”


“Those guys…”


Lee Ju-ho pointed to the monsters that were just around the corner and replied.


“They aren’t the usual monsters that should appear near the entrance of the dungeon.”


Lee Ju-ho’s low voice trembled. Su-hyeun looked at Lee Ju-ho. He was the highest-ranked awakener there. He should have met lots of other monsters of that level and should have known very well about the dungeon’s characteristics.


<>


The dungeon wasn’t normal; it was a dungeon that evolved day by day. Su-hyeun was already aware that it wasn’t an ordinary orange dungeon. The same went for Lee Ju-ho. Besides Su-hyeun, he was the most veteran amongst everyone else.


<>


Lee Ju-ho, too, could vaguely sense this fact. Although he might not have been as confident as Su-hyeun, he stood at a crossroad, finding it difficult to make a quick decision.


If so, then…


<>



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