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Sunday, November 2, 2014

Chapter 1: Birth of a Dark Gamer




Just imagine a noble, elegant and picturesque life of poverty that you might find in a soap opera, and no matter how poor you were, it still didn't discourage you from showing unconditional love for strangers or even sharing your piece of bread with a warm smile.

If anyone ever claimed that such an illusion existed in reality, Lee Hyun would beat them to a pulp, and strike them once more to finish them off.


Life really was too cruel for the poor. The Labor Welfare Law revised by Parliament, made all jobs unavailable to minors. Illegal though it was, Lee Hyun had worked in every kind of trade imaginable.


From the age of fourteen he took to sewing stitches in a factory. The salary there could only be called meager, but at least he was able to eat for free.


However,  being underground with only two ventilation fans running, his health quickly deteriorated. Thanks to this, he damaged his lungs, and gained heavy medical bills.


Then there was a job at a gas station and occasionally he even went around pulling a handcart collecting and selling recyclables.


But no matter how hard he worked, at the end of the day, the only money left in his pockets was chump change.


As a minor, he was forced to get a jobs illegally, and this fact was used by his employers to brutally and mercilessly work him to the bone.


He lived this life of exploitation until the age of twenty, and thanks to this, Lee Hyun knew very well the value of money. However, things would be different now. Now he was finally recognised as an adult by law, and with it came an ID card that would allow him to legally work.


Inserting the ID card in his wallet Lee Hyun mumbled.


“I'll have to work until my body practically breaks down. I should be able to deal with 3 jobs a day.”


When he was a kid, his parents had died in an accident, and now his family only consisted of his grandma and baby sister.


“Alright. From now on we’ll be rich.”


Lee Hyun pledged to become so, and returned home.


“Lee Hyun, did you come in just now?”


His grandma asked while lying down snuggled under her blankets.


His grandma after falling down the stairs a few days ago, had dislocated her hip, rendering her unable to go to work and although she was taking medicine to help her cope with the pain, with the household struggling as it was, she couldn't go to the hospital to receive proper treatment and thus could only rest at home, also due to not receiving treatment, every night she could only groan painfully.


Whenever Lee Hyun entered the house, he felt like he was suffocating. It was a lifeless home with an aloof little sister and an old grandma. Even if he didn’t know it, it was probably why he disliked coming home even more.


“Hayan?”


“I have no idea. She went out and didn’t return. She might be hanging around with the bad crowd again, I'm not sure.”


Lee Hayan was his little sister. He had not seen her face very often recently.


“It’s going to be okay. What could happen?”


“You're her one and only brother. A brother should protect his little sister.”


“Yes.”


Lee Hyun smiled wryly and went to his room. Even if he was forced into physical labor or driving a taxi, he still wanted to send his little sister to college.


For a while now she had been drifting off the rails, but she was bright and intelligent, unlike Lee Hyun. He believed that in college she would meet a good husband and be able to live well. He also wanted to repay his old and ailing grandma for all that she had sacrificed to raise Lee Hyun and Lee Hayan.


“Right, look for work tomorrow. There will probably be an employment test as well...”


Muttering to himself, Lee Hyun turned on the computer. The old computer buzzed to life. As soon as it connected to the internet, as was routine, he accessed a game. That game was Continent of Magic (CoM). A classic game released 20 years ago. An online game that once created a frenzy of gamers in the Republic of Korea.


That game remained at the pinnacle of gaming until just 3 years ago. Lee Hyun’s antiquated computer, assembled by combining parts from here and there, was not capable of handling most games. Nothing but Continent of Magic ran smoothly on it these days.


It was the first game he’d ever played, and only during the game could he have a feeling of enjoyment.


Lee Hyun’s playing style was very peculiar. He did not associate with the other people around him and instead hunted all day long. After killing monsters and raising his level, he headed to harder hunting grounds. He did not participate in sieges or guild wars at all.


He found pleasure in the game by gradually improving his character’s abilities and upgrading equipment. He once hunted for 200 hours straight (8 days) without catching a wink of sleep. It wasn’t unusual for him to struggle for a month to raise one level or catch a single monster.


Some might question what kind of fun he was looking for, but for him it was fun simply watching his character grow stronger and when he was able to defeat monsters he was previously unable to, he was thoroughly delighted.


In a short period of time, Lee Hyun had reached the highest level. He had attained the ultimate state where levels no longer rose.


In the two decades since Continent of Magic was released, it was the first and only record in history of this happening. When Lee Hyun looked back, he found no one who could rival his character in supremacy. In hunting grounds where others struggled as a party, he singlehandedly wiped out all the monsters.


After climbing to the highest level, he alone hunted all the ultimate monsters, including Dragons.


Unfortunately for Lee Hyun, he had lost all interest in CoM. Nowadays with the technological advances, the ultimate goal of every game was to equip itself with a virtual reality system.


A truly splendid game by the name of 'Royal Road', was often referenced as the standard for virtual reality gaming. Beginning with it's fully implemented world, the game contained tens of thousands of races and users. Over tens of thousands of jobs and hundreds of thousands of skills.


You could enjoy any adventure as you desired or even go sea fishing with friends for days on end, well that is as long as you don’t encounter whimsical typhoon of course.


The massive scale of freedom was amazing, but the best above all else, was the wondrous game’s system. Royal Road had the reputation of inducing the ultimate fun a human could enjoy in a game.


“Well for me, that’s all just a pie in the sky.”


What could Lee Hyun expect from a computer  that slowed down by a slightly more complex web page?


Popular as it was, to install the equipment that made virtual reality possible, would cost over 10,000,000 won ($10,000 USD). If he had that kind of money laying around, under any circumstance would first go to his grandma’s medical bills, or it would go to his little sister’s college tuition fund.


To diligently earn money, Lee Hyun had decided to delete his CoM account, and thus remove any form of distraction from his goal of earning money. Unfortunately the game/account had to go.


————————————————————————————————
—Are you sure you want to delete your account?—


Yes | No
————————————————————————————————


Lee Hyun brought the mouse cursor over ‘Yes’. Now, with a single click of the mouse, the treasured character he had raised would disappear forever. Just at the moment he flexed his finger to press down, a thought raced through his mind.


‘Can I sell my character for money? Account sale I think it’s called...’


He remembered reading a newspaper or something, that said buying and selling characters was a commonplace practice these days. That story meant money! It dawned on Lee Hyun that if he was going to delete his character anyway, it wasn’t a bad idea to sell it to another person instead.


Lee Hyun began searching through the internet looking for a character trading site. One search resulted in dozens of sites, and among them he located and entered the one with the largest trading volume.


“So I just post my character here for a price and it’s done?”


Lee Hyun uploaded pictures along with his own character.


Highest level character in Continent of Magic, with the best equipment coming from Dragons that was worth 30 trillion marks.


He decided to begin the auction with the initial price of 50,000 won ($50 USD). He was afraid that no one would bid if he asked for too high a price right off the bat.


The auction deadline was one day.


Waiting for a longer period of time for a bigger bid of money to come was unlikely to happen. Also. to get a job he needed a decent set of clothes at least a shirt and tie, so he was in a hurry to get money right away.


Typically there was a range of characters and items to determine the price, but the auction content of other people could only be seen by paying members so Lee Hyun was denied access.


Lee Hyun finished posting and went to sleep. Waking up early the next day, he planned to stop by a nearby employment office.


Not even an hour after Lee Hyun post on the auction site, the netizens that occupied the virtual space began heating up the internet.


*****


Initially, no one believed the auction post. With the latest patch to Continent of Magic, they were well aware the level cap had been increased significantly higher.


Currently the maximum level limit was 200.


In the entire server, no one who achieved such a state could be found, possibly because the figure itself was practically impossible for any man alive.


And now, there was an auction post with the character that rose to the highest level for sale.


“Some guy’s playing a prank on us.”


“What sort of moron posted this boring stuff?”


“This has happens so frequently it’s no longer funny.”


Several people commented in this fashion. Passing by some advised no one be fooled while others gave thanks for making them laugh.


From early on in 21st century, phishing entries to steal users information had become a trend and because they were duped so often, many thought it was one such a case again.


“No, never…”


“Can’t be.”


Netizens tried to ignore the auction post. But their curiosity could not be resisted and they entered to see the post again and again.


Auction posts are unconditionally required to post screenshots of the character to be shown.


Each of the files attached to the posting were opened. The character info was truly outstanding. Various stats hit maximum and equipment items were indeed fantastic.


“Where the hell did he get those weapons?”


“Full set of Red Dragon Armor along with Red Dragon’s Backbone Shield? Wow…….”


“He says they were conferred by the Black God of Valor.”


People admired it quite a bit. Somehow it did not seem like a normal phishing post. To forge such detailed images would require a great deal of effort.


“This guy definitely spent a lot of time on it.”


“The interface is Continent of Magic, but what game did he import the equipment from?”


Among those present at the auction post were current graphics designers. Looking at the base photo, they tried to find a blind spot.


“No matter how well-crafted the picture is, microscopic traces will remain if a picture is edited. Even if it looks perfect in the eyes of the general public, when you apply the latest technology, the fake parts will be revealed.”


The designers magnified the images by a factor 10,000 to track down the editied pixels, studied every shade, and even scanned the photo files into a 3D format, trying to prove it was a forgery. But their attempts proved futile. Finally they were forced to acknowledge.


“All these images are real.”


“I’m the chief designer of LK Co. I guarantee these pictures haven’t been altered in anyway.”


Contrary to their expectations, the graphic designers began to confirm the authenticity of the images.


Then real users of Continent of Magic appeared. The moment they saw the images, they shouted in surprise. From the beginning they suspected nothing.


“It’s real. The character name is 'Weed'. This user’s is damn famous.”


“The equipment is his, but I didn’t know he had reached the top level, thats really impressive!”


Lee Hyun always played alone, intentionally avoiding hunting grounds with lots of people. He never participated in sieges, and minor disputes were usually ignored and passed by. But rumors about him had never ceased to stop.


Slaying Dragons and Krakens deemed simply invincible and sweeping through the highest level hunting grounds all single handedly.


Not associating with other players didn’t mean they couldn’t recognize him. Among the remaining users playing CoM, he was a legend. Only Lee Hyun was oblivious to the fact that he was a celebrity.


“So the equipment is real?”


“Then, this can only be called jackpot…”


The initial price for the auction was 50,000 won. Excluding the character value or equipment, just owning it alone according to current prices made the amount was far too low.


People hurriedly began to write down their bids. It went up in a flash from 50,000 to 300,000 won, all the way until 700,000 won. An hour had not passed before it exceeded 1,000,000 won.


The value of selling just one piece of equipment would cover the cost so there was no need to be hesitant about the loss. The bid began to skyrocket.


By this time, many people stopped participating out of desperation because they imagined to some extent the auction closing price.


Although the number of players in Continent of Magic has decreased over time, after the servers were integrated into one and became free to play, there were still quite a lot of users playing.


Initially, it was the players of Continent of Magic who drove up the price, and following them were the wealthy office workers who increased the price further.


At one time, when the game was newly created, Continent of Magic kept most of the Republic of Korea up all night. The highest level character in that game, owning such an antique had such a value that you wanted to show it off to others.


The shrewder among the office workers quickly phoned their similarly aged bosses.


“Director-nim, is that you?”


"Why are you calling me at midnight? Do you want to get fired?"


“Eh? That, well… Director-nim, didn't you use to play Continent of Magic in the past?”


"Yes, what of it?"


“Right now, the highest level character in Continent of Magic is up for auction. I thought Director-nim would surely be interested in it…”


"What! W-We-Weed you mean?!"


“Yes. So Director-nim knows about him. His Character is level 200. Stats and equipment are also filled to the max."


Then followed the explanation.


"Right now. With your own money call for a 30,000,000 won bid right now. I’m going back home right now to check it out, try and get the first place bid!"


In the current age, people who hold key positions in companies belonged to the generation that played online games in the middle of their youth. Thanks to this, they boosted the price range even higher!


In large portal sites and every game related website, the main hot topic talked about was the auction of the highest level character from Continent of Magic. Many people started searching for it, and instantly the keyword ranking shot skyward. From this point onward, the real auction began.


*****


In the meantime though, Lee Hyun was sound asleep, completely unaware of this.


“Nogada… 50,000 won per day. Washing dishes in restaurants, 30,000 won. Supper, ham hocks…”


He was busy summing up what to do the next day in his dreams.


*****


With the people’s attention all focused on certain person, the auction price was soaring.


So far, nobody knew who Continent of Magic’s highest level was, but it invoked a desire to possess and show off the eternal character of the once greatest game.


The auction price finally exceeded 100,000,000 won (roughly $100,000 USD).


At this point, ownership exceeded the market price for the individual holdings and equipment. Some people lamented over their lack of money and dropped out of the auction.


“I think the guy selling this character is a big-time weirdo.”


“How could he set the auction period for such a priceless avatar to only a single day?”


“Was he damn sure he would receive the maximum possible price for it?”


In this manner people commented the auction post to soothe their sorrows. Before long, the number of comments went beyond 900.


The auction was automatically extended a few times, and when it exceeded 300,000,000 won, several companies became actively involved.


Due to the simple matter of the auction, the only thing people knew was that there was no end in sight. If the deal was settled for a colossal sum, numerous people would hear about it through news or word-of-mouth, and the publicity effects were formidable.


To place just one ad required a pile of money, also, after painfully spending money to make an ad, people still did not bother looking closely at it. However, what about news of the highest level character being sold for a small fortune? People’s interest and attention would be concentrated.


Each company’s public relations department approached with such a perspective. Digital media intensified the competition, game broadcasters wanted to acquire the highest level character. The value or market price of the character was not a problem. Organizing a series of specials about the famous game in the past and then casting the character in question would increase the reliability and public image of the broadcasters.


Fierce competition led to the price skyrocketing again and again, and the surge in the number of visitors made the item trading site smile with satisfaction.


And then, the auction finally came to an end.


In the end, five major game broadcasters battled one another for the character, but piercing though all that competition, and the one that ending up making the successful bid and received the character was CTS Media. The latest situation was its rapid expansion and increase in broadcast share that made it a promising company to go to. By intervention from the president’s secretary, the winning bid was written and submitted as the auction ended.


*****


“Hello?”


Lee Hyun received a phone call waking him up from his sleep in the morning.


The construction job from the day before exhausted him and he had fallen asleep. He earned only 30,000 won. It was less than average because he was told off for being incompetent.


"Hello." Unexpectedly, coming from beyond the receiver was the voice of a beautiful woman.


“Um… Looks like you might have called the wrong number.”


Lee Hyun, certain that nobody in their right mind would ever call his house tried to put down the receiver as quickly as possible.


However before he did so the woman with the beautiful voice spoke again…….


"You tried selling your account over the internet, is that not so?" she asked.


“Yes, that is correct...”


"This is CTS Media Incorporated. I am the president’s secretary Yoon Nahee. We have deposited the amount of the current successful bid of the auction into your account, you can confirm this on the item trading site. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any issues."


“Wa-wait a minute! There was a successful bid?”


"Hmm. Yes, there was. May I ask if you have not checked it yet?"


“No, I was a little busy…”


Yoon Nahee of CTS Media, was the President’s secretary. Even going so far as to work in financial resources, she also knew 8 languages as well. She was by no means an ordinary woman at all, and all those around her were busy flattering her. But the fact that he did not check the auction of such a fortune was enough to overwhelm Yoon Nahee.


“How much was the successful bid?”


Lee Hyun was filled with unease. Hoping for at least over 200,000 won to pay the medical bills, he figured he should ask, but the voice Lee Hyun heard over the phone stunned him into shock.


"3,090,000,000 won." (About $3,000,000-ish USD)


Originally, Lee Hyun’s character 'Weed', according to the market price was around 150,000,000 won.


Normally games at the height of their popularity that sell their equipment alone could sometimes pass for 100,000,000 won, but if it’s an old game, Like CoM, the market price is usually on the extremely low side.


However, due several factors, including the limited auction deadline, the one-of-a-kind rarity and his characters fame, led to it ultimately being brought over 3,000,000,000 won. The auction itself was newsworthy, which was exactly what CTS Media aimed for.


However, Lee Hyun replied bluntly.


“Are you kidding me?”


"What?"


“I can’t believe you called me just to talk about something as stupid as that. I’m hanging up now.”


After putting down the receiver, Lee Hyun bitterly laughed.


“How did she know about the auction post? And how did she get my number to play a prank?”


Lee Hyun believed none of it. It sounded far too absurd.


However, the moment he accessed the site, his auction post floated on the main screen of the item trading site. Countless people posted comments in real time, and the auction successful bid amount was as she said, 3,090,000,000 won!


Lee Hyun managed not to faint only because of his grim tenacity.


‘If this is a dream, I hope I never wake up.’ he thought.


The next day, Lee Hyun confirmed the money receipt that more than 3,000,000,000 won had really been deposited into his own account.


He pinched his flesh until blood could be seen. This is unmistakably reality! Lee Hyun rushed to show his grandma the bankbook. He still did not dare tell her the story in it its entirety.


“Grandma, I've made some money.”


“Yes?”


His grandma replied helplessly. It had only been 3 days after his ID card was issued. He couldn't have earned much.


“Well, good work, Hyun-ah.”


“It was not that much trouble, Grandma.”


Lee Hyun handed her the bankbook.


“What is this?”


“Look. This here is the money I've earned.”


His grandma rubbed her dim eyes a couple of times while looking at the bankbook. The amount stamped into the account, the reaction was disbelief.


“You! Did you steal this?! No, no, this amount of money can’t be stolen…”


“What I did was sell my game account.”


“Account?”


“It’s far too complex to explain… Anyway, I obtained this money legally.”


“Then really…”


His grandma, filled with rising emotion, softly sobbed.


“Hyun-ah, like others, we can now live without worrying about water and electricity bills anymore?”


“Of course. We can even own our own home.”


“You can go back to school… and Hayan can go to college. We no longer have to live envying others.”


His grandma was moved to tears. It was the same with Lee Hyun.


While remembering all of the suffering and bitterness he received.


“Now we can live happily together, Grandma!”


“Yes, of course.”


Due to all of the tough times together, these two people were thrilled that much more. After several days they obtained a new house and his grandma was finally able to receive proper treatment at the hospital. They also found in addition to her hip, that she was sick in many other ways and had to be admitted to the hospital for a period of time. His little sister Hayan was also delighted. But of course, their happiness was to be short-lived.


Five men dressed in black professional suits. The ones he especially did not want to see the most came to the hospital.


These five well-built black suited men with fresh from the store shoes,  literally bullied and pushed their way into the his grandma hospital room, and even though only 5 came into the large hospital room itself, the room now seemed to be filled.


All of the other patients panicked from fear so with the help from their caregivers, they quietly slipped out.


Eventually only Lee Hyun, his grandma and the men remained. Lee Hyun thought it fortunate that his little sister wasn’t there the moment they came in. But nothing good ever came from those men in suits. He expected it would be the no different from before.


“Lee Hyun. I've recently heard of the good fortune bestowed to your family…”


The blonde haired man spoke.


Lee Hyun shot back sharply.


“So?”


“In the past your father took out a loan with us, and now we’re here to collect on that debt.”


“Debt?”


“Yes. And now that you have the money, I believe you’re ready pay it back.”


Lee Hyun gulped swallowing his saliva. When his parents passed away, Lee Hyun had inherited all of his father debt of 100,000,000 won.


It would've been fine if he had done the waiver of inheritance, but at that time Lee Hyun was still too young to understand and did not know about this law. In addition, his grandma, with the grief of losing her only child, also failed to apply for the waiver of inheritance in court within 3 months and thus legacy was inherited.


Therefore, Lee Hyun had become indebted to the loan sharks for whooping 100,000,000 won debt. He also knew how ruthless they were about collecting. But now he had a lot of money. There was no need to be afraid.


“I will repay the debt. How much is it?”


“Repay? Your words are a little short. Well, that’s fine. We treasure our esteemed customers. The money you have to pay is about 3,000,000,000 won.”


At the man’s words, Lee Hyun’s temples throbbed with rage.


“Absurd! The money my father borrowed was clearly 100,000,000 won.”


“Hey, it’s been 8 years. As time goes by, interest piles up.”


“Such a ridiculous thing… I’ll report you to the police!”


“Report? Knock yourself out. You think the police will take your side?”


“Police are the people’s cane.”


“Puhahahaha.”


The men laughed at Lee Hyun’s words. In particular the blonde haired man, hearing that absurdness, he put his hand on his forehead and had a good laugh. The man standing quietly behind  the blonde hair man spoke. Considering the atmosphere, he seemed like their leader.


“Explain to the kid straight up. Do not cause unnecessary trouble.”


“Yes, Hyung-nim. I’m sorry. Well kid, listen carefully. What we’re doing does not break any laws. Because we received legitimate interest. To begin with, the interest is 50% of the principal amount per year. Do you want me to calculate? By year 1 it increased from 100,000,000 to 150,000,000, by year 2, roughly 220,000,000, by year 3 it topped 330,000,000, by year 4 close to almost 500,000,000.”


At the calculation report, Lee Hyun felt despair. Debt increased 5 fold in just 4 years. 8 years passed, so it might have been 2,500,000,000, but the time that passed was more than exactly 8 years so it was not wrong to say 3,000,000,000.


Lee Hyun while being harassed by the gang members did not know how much debt he was in. Without him knowing, it accumulated to as much as 3,000,000,000.


Bankruptcy!


Others with a 3,000,000,000 debt would file bankruptcy. Even after bankruptcy you would probably owe a few thousand won. Lee Hyun did not even consider bankruptcy. It costs money just to file bankruptcy. The courts and legal counselors. Paying them money and following the necessary steps, you could enter bankruptcy.


Lee Hyun could not even afford to file for bankruptcy. In fact, even if you had the money, you can’t seriously believe the vicious loan sharks would leave you alone to file bankruptcy.


“We want the 3,000,000,000.”


“No-no way!”


“No way? Suit yourself. If you don’t want to we will come again tomorrow to collect. At that time what you have to pay back will increase a little more, but your call.”


The men dressed in black suits exuded confidence. The confidence of free will, the confidence of power.


And also, Lee Hyun knew it was better to repay the debt if he could. In the first place there were no other alternatives, they came knowing he had money. The men laughed with a smirk.


“Poor grandma has been injured and hospitalized, but she sure looks comfortable in the hospital. Much like your little sister in the hallway. Such a beautiful little sister, I bet she could be sold for quite a bit on the island…”


“Don’t you dare touch Hayan!”


“Relax, nothing has happened, yet. Right now, we’re just talking kid. But what if this family of three was admitted to the hospital all at once. It’d be the most touching sight.”


Lee Hyun could not stand the veiled threats anymore. It couldn’t be helped. It would be enough if the men left. Those unable to repay the borrowed money, in the slums he had seen the fates of those with no money to give them. If there was a sin in the first place, it was borrowing money from them.


Not even able to depend on the law, Lee Hyun had to surrender his bankbook. The men received the bankbook on the spot, and pulled out 90,000,000 won in cash from a bag. With it was the IOU for 100,000,000 won written by Lee Hyun’s parents 8 years ago. From the beginning they knew everything and came firmly prepared.


“Thank you. And sorry for your troubles.”


As the men exited the hospital room, Lee Hyun yelled.


“Wait a minute!”


“Why kid? What’s up?”


“Someday, I will surely make you pay for this!”


“What?”


“Because the money has been repaid, you guys think that this is the end of things. But it means later on I will get even with you guys.”


The men were about to laugh again. However, at the sight of Lee Hyun’s eyes, their laughter died before ever coming out.


A young, wild beast. The miasmic embrace of his eyes had sent a chill down their spines.


“I see you still have some spirit in you. We need to teach a fearless kid like you about the world.”


The men rolled up their sleeves. But Lee Hyun was not the slightest bit scared, nor did he shrink back.


“Enough. We have already collected the money, don’t do anything unnecessary.”


“But…”


“Do you really want to make a scene in a hospital?”


“Understood, Hyung-nim.”


The men thundered getting out.


“And kid.”


The casual leader of the men looked at Lee Hyun and gave him advice.


“I am Han Jinsup of Myongdong. Do you really your boldness will work in this poisonous world? If you think it’s unfair, make 3,000,000,000 in 5 years and look for me. Then I will serve you as my Hyung-nim.”


The loan sharks departed. Lee Hyun sat down on the ground helplessly. And at the sound of his little sister crying in the hallway, his grandma made a deep sorrowful sigh.


*****


After being robbed to the tune of 3,000,000,000 won, he did not have the strength to do anything. He was slammed by an extreme emptiness. However, on the third day after being robbed, he stood up.


There was still hope. So he could not sit and hesitate. A smile casually drifted to Lee Hyun’s mouth. Amidst the tears, laughter emerged.


It was all but a moment, but the touching experience of having a large sum of money that seemed to have enlighten him just a little about how to really live in the world.


‘Right. If I earned once, I can earn twice.’


Lee Hyun was busy. 90,000,000 won (roughly $90,000 USD) was not taken away, but it did not mean he could use it all. Because the house contract was already set at 50,000,000 won so that was already set aside.


He was still able to cancel the contract if he wanted, but doing so would mean he would have to pay a penalty fine. He would rather die than pay the penalty.


Ultimately, the amount that could be used was only 40,000,000 won!


All thanks to the real estate slump in the early 21st century.


*****


Using part of the remaining money, Lee Hyun registered in many martial arts halls such as aikido, kendo and taekwondo. He placed himself on a rigorous schedule traversing to as many as 6 different places a day. Over time his body was broken down and rebuilt at the various gyms as he continue to master these martial arts quickly.


The instructors there called him a 'Wild Beast'. Building his stamina, he swung his sword all day long, enough to cause blood to flow from his hands.


Virtual reality game!


A place where depending on how a person moves their body in real life can affect how your body moves in virtual reality. Then wouldn't learning martial arts and studying about the game system a little more be helpful?


Of course, those that learned martial arts would not be completely advantageous. But to be even a little stronger, even at level 1, it was better to learn martial arts.


Imagine being at least 10% stronger throughout the game, the tremendous effects it would bring. Because of that, Lee Hyun spent most of his morning and afternoon learning martial arts and getting fitter, and during the evening, studied about virtual reality games. Things like: which game had the most users and how the game system worked was thoroughly analyzed.


For every profession, city and skill Lee Hyun made analysis tables and pinned them onto the walls of his room. The paper records bombarded Lee Hyun’s room.


For 1 whole year. Lee Hyun learned about martial arts and studied virtual reality games. The time of 1 year wasn’t just a preparation period, it was also used to closely observe the development of Royal Road.


The virtual reality game at the end was as expected. Royal Road, like its namesake, walked the path of the emperor with serenity. Possessing more than 75% of the world’s game market share, more than 90% of Korean gamers played this game. It could practically be called a scheduled sequence.


Especially during wars of kings, it came to a point where it overwhelmed the viewership of all other networks. The only game in the world where anybody could obtain fame, power and money. Royal Road was the result of an ingenious system interlocking with virtual reality.


‘Great. All according to plan.’


Lee Hyun’s cold eyes stared at the monitor.


That day he purchased a capsule used to connect to Royal Road for 10,000,000 won. It was expensive enough that tears seeped out, but he constantly reminded himself that it was a necessary investment. With all preparations finished. It was the beginning of the game. He felt like a soldier heading onto the battlefield.


————————————————————————————————
—Connect to Royal Road?—


Yes | No
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When the message came, Lee Hyun shouted without any hesitation.

“Yes!”


{ 55 comments... read them below or Comment }

  1. This is the second time I start reading this masterpiece... I hope you'll like it as much as I did and will do!

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    1. I have also just started reading it for the second time, and have to agree that it is a masterpiece.

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    2. Same, for the 2nd time. It is a masterpiece. Too bad volumes 22 to 45 are not translated yet due to the author's request.

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    3. I just started for the third time. It's too good

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    4. I just started reading for the 2nd time, after being inspired by the manwha picture of Seo Yoon.

      Volume 22 is translated and most of 23 is being translated currently. I think the translators will keep going.

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    5. Started reading for the 4th time...after reading the summary til volume 40 ;)

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    6. reading this for the second time. while waiting for vol. 24.

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    7. The same. My second time too.

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    8. Second time brothers and sisters hoo rah

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    9. Third time for me. It's so awesome!

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    10. Starting my second time too, after being up to date of all those Xianxia works on Wuxiaworld. And as great as the likes of Coiling Dragon, Martial God Asura, Against the Gods,... are, this is still my favorite light novel.

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    11. First time!! Suck it!! An whole new and amazing experience ahead of me!! xD

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    12. Just discovered it! Hope it's as good as you guys say :-D

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    13. Just discovered it! Hope it's as good as you guys say :-D

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    14. Its awesome I read it twice and I will read it again once the latest season is completed.

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    15. Guys, this isn't a masterpiece. It's a Magnum Opus at least. My quite historical historical.

      Second time ftw

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  2. Wow, this is better than I expected. I'm def gonna read more :]

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  3. Decided to re-read this again after seeing the manhwa adaptation~

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  4. The guy not cares about her sis?

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    1. He deeply cares for her sis, but he respect her freedom. You can find out that in the hold novel.

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    2. He deeply cares for her sis, but he respect her freedom. You can find out that in the hold novel.

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  5. First time i read a light novel. Was reading Psyren (manga) but, since my specs are under repair, my eyes tired off quickly. It so happens that one chapter of the novel's manhwa adaption came out and i decided to read this. Big catch.

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  6. I like this novel, and is a shame 23 books yet to translate :'(. I spend a week reading the first 21 and I'll read them again I guess.

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  7. I actually have a stupid question. If the guy was so poor, and spent virtually his entire childhood working several jobs a day to support his family, where did he find the time to play the game? I mean....he once spent 8 days straight without sleep (people have died just after 48 or 72 hours), but where did he get that much time? Did he take a week off his jobs or something?

    I mean, he was described as being abused by his employers and worked to the bone? So where did he get the energy to play the game? Or...was did he perhaps play the game before his parents died, and he was still relatively well-off? I guess that's the only explanation.

    Other than that trivial bit, I really like the story. It sounds absolutely awesome.

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    1. I don't think he spent his entire life in poverty, when I read this, I was under the impression that they fell into debt when the MC grew older. In the webcomic at least, his childhood seemed fairly normal..

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  9. 200 won more expensive salt~April 21, 2015 at 10:16 AM

    2nd time here, first re-read~

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  11. Huh, how to connect the royal road? I can't click yes or no there... :v

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  12. 2nd time rereading exceeded konjiki no word master

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  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  14. thank you so much for the chapter this is my 2nd time reading this amazing novel, just caught up with the latest chapter 5 in volume 25, not gonna wait but I'm gonna reread from beginning so by the time I get to volume 25 there will be few more new chapters.

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  15. The only thing that annoys me is that the kid didn't fight the debt collectors in court. I understand it from a narrative sense (why describe months of court proceedings and kill the pacing of the story) but you would think that for all he values money, he would have the wherewithal to lawyer-up the moment he came into such a huge financial windfall. I mean, it isn't like the collectors could just rob him of 3 million dollars right after he just became a news sensation right? Man, if I was his lawyer, that would be the easiest case: total media coverage, clear "bad guys", plenty of money to work with... the ideal scenario.

    Still, I really like where this is going.

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    1. And suddenly his sister goes missing and he cant do anything about it. If the mafia wants something they get it. He is actually lucky that they dont make some stupid reason to persude him further but after 3 mio dollars i guess even they give up an exploited sheep.

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  16. Pretty good first chapter, a few spelling/grammar mistakes but compared to other translated media I dead it is definitely one of the best out there since it isn't distracting enough to take you out of the "zone".

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  17. This read is absolutely wonderful despite certain spelling mistakes. 10/10, third time re-reading it.

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  18. Do people really have money to burn in the novel? 10,000,000 Won and 90% of all Korean gamers play it? Are there arcades that you can do this in or something? =.=

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    1. Game is a very very big deal in Korea. Look at League of Legend, Korea stand on top, look at Starcraft, Korea stand on top. You could say that video game in Korea is equivalent to US football and basketball.

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  19. My friend recommended this to me. I will never doubt anything he says again....

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  20. guys whats better?? manhwa or the li-novel?

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  21. guys whats better?? manhwa or the li-novel?

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  22. Mamhwa is a Korean version of manga. Light novel is a book without pictures. Personally i prefer light novel you get so much detail compared to manga.

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  23. Such a wonderful story. This is my second time reading as well, too impatient to wait for the next translations, can't get enough of Weed and is adventures/misadventures!

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  24. that first chapter

    WOW i can already tell this will be good, no i dont know if this is due to the original being this good or just excellent work by the translators

    i mean this reads amazingly well, simple sort of style but draws you in

    the first chapter is usually slow or just exposition in most books but this goes right into it with enough exposition to make you understand the world but not too much so that it bores you

    cant wait to finish this comment and read more :D i read way too much and its rare that a series excites me so soon

    the adventures in royal road sound fun!~

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    1. Hey there, you will love this series i have read 45 volumes so far and its amazing. 30 volumes are already translated and the rest are on there way. Once you finish this i recommend you should read Tales of Demons and Gods on http://m.wuxiaworld.com/tdg-index its also an amazing tale the main character is a walking encyclopaedia.

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    2. @Zaid im already read Tales of Demon and God and USAW (upgrade specialist in another world) did u know another LN which as good as TDG,Weed,USAW,Magi Grandson,Knight and Magic,Tate no Yuusha,World Teacher,Konjiki no Wordmaster,Mushoku Tensei,Ark, etc, give your suggestion please Brother Zaid...
      Im tired of waiting for update day...

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    3. read Coiling Dragon its already completed and you do not have to wait for the updates. After you finish coiling dragon read Steller Transformation its also very simillar and completed im currently reading steller transformation.

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  25. i read the korean manga for fot what it called but while waiting im gonna read this :D thanks in advance --Zia--

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  26. Reading for the second time. Can't get enough of this. Waiting for chapter 2 of volume 48'

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