I Alone Level-Up Chapter 49
This was the first S-rank equipment he had found. On top of the incredible benefit of reducing physical damage taken by 15%, it also had a powerful effect of giving strength and constitution a 20 point boost. Jinwoo's chest pounded in excitement at the item.
'It's incomparable to the A-rank equipment.'
He had obtained 2 A-rank items so far. The first was Casaka's Venom Gland from taking down Casaka. The second was the Gatekeeper's Necklace from Cerberus. Even those two were plenty powerful. While the Venom Gland did technically have a penalty on strength, it still was a powerful item that gave him a permanent 20% physical damage reduction. And the Gatekeeper's Necklace? It was an amazing item that gave 20 points to both agility and sense. The benefit of those two stats only became more apparent as time passed.
And the "Red Knight's Helmet" that he obtained had effects that nearly combined those two A-rank items. And without any penalties.
'It's really the best.'
Jinwoo could not help but smile despite the difficult fight. There was one more minor thing; he actually liked the design of the helmet.
'Shame that I won't be able to show it off.'
The helmet shone with the color of blood. Along with the long plumage, it was almost like a work of art. For a brief moment, Jinwoo would've liked to obtain and wear the full set of the crimson armor. Unfortunately,
The other pieces of Ygritte's armor did not appear as drops. Only the helmet had been obtained. Jinwoo put aside the small regret and carefully put on the helmet.
As always, the item disappeared the moment he equipped it. Although he could not show off its form, the helmet greatly increased his attributes.
Strength: 128 (+20)
Constitution: 87 (+20)
(Available stat points: 0)
Physical Damage Reduction: 46% (+15%)
The boost of the helmet was temporarily shown in parenthesis. Strength, constitution and even physical damage reduction had been greatly increased. Jinwoo was immensely satisfied. Confirming the effects with his eyes made his heart race.
Jinwoo shook his head.
'The quest is not over. I need to calm myself.'
There was one more item he had to check. Still excited, Jinwoo looked over the two remaining items.
Runestone: Ruler's Hands
Instant Return Stone
Two stones. Jinwoo first looked at the "Instant Return Stone". It was a piece of rock slightly bigger than a walnut.
'I know what a Runestone is, but…'
What was an "Instant" Return Stone? His curiosity was quickly answered. The stone's information came up in front of him.
Instant Return Stone
Class Advancement Quest Item
Break to immediately return to the outside of the Dungeon.
This item will disappear once the quest is complete.
You may not keep this item in your inventory.
The way to use it was the same as a Runestone. Instead of a skill, breaking it would take him to the outside.
'Wait, so the class advancement quest isn't over?'
According to the item's description, if the quest was over, it should've been destroyed. That meant...
A chill ran down Jinwoo's spine. It was a strange feeling. He received a way to exit the Dungeon in case of an emergency, so why did he feel so uneasy? If this was something that could be used in a real Dungeon, the stone's value would be incalculable. The little rock was equivalent to a lifesaving device, who would be stingy with their money on something like that? Of course, Jinwoo felt the same way. This should've decreased the danger in the quest greatly.
'If I wanted to, I can leave any time I want…'
Despite all this, he could not shake the dread that he was feeling. As if it was waiting, the System warned him with its tone.
The player has obtained the Instant Return Stone.
The Class Advancement Quest will now begin.
Ah! So this was the item that started the quest! Jinwoo was shocked. He felt like he had stepped on a mine that could've been avoided.
'If I knew this, I would've rested before picking it up…'
It was too late to regret it now. No matter how much he combined his experience and intelligence, it was impossible to predict the future with a 100% certainty. Cold sweat gathered on his brows. He checked his status.
HP: 4,161 / 10,270
MP: 390 / 850
'The fatigue is a bit high, but it's still manageable.'
Thanks to the increase in constitution from the helmet, both his current and maximum health went up proportionately. Thank goodness for that. Jinwoo tried to cheer himself up a little.
'This is still doable. For now.'
Ultimately, his life wouldn't be in danger. He was holding the Instant Return Stone in his hand. But no matter how he thought about it, the stone represented giving-up on the quest. If not, it would not have been given to him as the starting signal.
'And if I give-up on the quest…'
It'd be no different than giving up on obtaining a class. The sweat that gathered now fell in streaks down his face.
The System's next message appeared.
In 10 seconds, dimensional gates will start opening at random.
'Dimensional gates?' 
Before he could figure out what those words meant, the System produced a huge screen with numbers high in the air.
Well, that was easy enough to understand. It was probably the countdown it spoke of earlier. The messages continued.
The player has a choice:
Use the Instant Return Stone to escape the Dungeon,
...8, 7, 6…
The countdown continued.
Or endure as long as possible and obtain the advancement points required for class advancement.
"Endure? Endure what?"
Jinwoo uttered loudly in frustration. His hand was already holding Casaka's Poisoned Fang, summoned from the inventory. The Runestone was placed in the inventory, and the Instant Return Stone that he could not store was placed in his back pocket.
While his heart felt like it was about to explode, he had finished his combat preparations.
This was Sung Jinwoo.
The Class Advancement Quest will begin soon.
...4, 3, 2.
Jinwoo stared at the numbers counting down, then surveilled his surroundings. His gaze quickly fell here and there. Something was about to start. The air in the room started to twist and become distorted.
I wish you luck.
It was the first time the System displayed a semblance of emotion, but there was no time to be surprised. The moment the timer hit 0, gates started appearing in various places around the room.
It wasn't just one or two. There were 6 close to him, behind them were many more appearing. At the same time, the timer started to count forward.
The countdown had started again. This time, it would time his trial here. The advancement points would depend on his record. The System wasn't fully clear, but Jinwoo understood as much.
'I'll become stronger the more I endure.'
More accurately, he would obtain a more powerful class. He could not waste an opportunity like this. There was breathing room in his HP and MP.
'Let's endure as much as I can.'
The exact moment the timer reached 3 seconds, the nearest gates started spawning a multitude of knights without weapons.
The ground shook as the armored knights got into formation. They looked like a silver tidal wave frozen in time, waiting to crash down upon him. Even in face of the oppressive force, a smile appeared on Jinwoo's face.
'If it's just this much, I can take them on.'
In a way, he was thankful that it was just this level of enemies. If something like Ygritte came out of those gates, he couldn't imagine lasting more than seconds.
Jinwoo used what little mana he had left to go into 'Stealth'.
'It's a lot, but I'll use it to first check out the situation.'
The Hunter's form disappeared from sight. As expected, the knights that were running toward him all slowed down and stopped. Unfortunately, something happened that Jinwoo did not expect,
A mage has used 'Eye of Detection'.
The System beeped with warning. Jinwoo turned his head towards the sound.
A mage that had appeared from one of the gates was casting a spell. Jinwoo saw an eye-shaped mark above its head. The mark sparkled, and Jinwoo's 'Stealth' was released.
His plans went kaput from the start.
The knights that stood motionless after he disappeared turned their heads in unison towards Jinwoo. It was a scene straight out of a horror movie. The silver tidal wave fell upon the man. He clenched his teeth and prepared himself.
His punch blew off a knight's head. His victim fell on the spot.
You've defeated the Knight.
A light gathered in Jinwoo's eyes.
Bloodlust has been activated.
Fear has been inflicted.
The targets will lose 50% of all attributes for 1 minute.
He was able to slow many of the monsters with the fear's effects, but his mana had fallen all the way to 90. The 'Bloodlust' mana cost was 100. He would not be able to use it again.
'But I bought myself a minute with this.'
In the single minute that the monsters' attributes were lowered, Jinwoo merciless destroyed as many enemies as he could.
In face of the Hunter's terrifying might, the knights crumpled left and right.
Bang! Boom! Crack!
However, the speed at which new knights spawned outpaced Jinwoo's ability to destroy them.
In the middle of frantic melee, Jinwoo checked the time.
3 minutes and 19 seconds. Jinwoo wondered how many points that translated to. What would he receive if he left now? The situation was becoming more and more unbearable by the second. The onslaught of the knights continued from the gates. He had destroyed many of them, but their numbers remained uncountable.
Eventually, Jinwoo was buried in the mass of the knights.
'Unyielding Spirit' has been activated.
'Unyielding Spirit' has been activated.
He began to feel his health plummet.
HP: 1,036 / 10,270
'And the time…?'
5 minutes and 8 seconds. He had endured as long as he could.
At the bottom of the suffocating dogpile of the knights, Jinwoo reached into his back pocket with effort.
The Instant Return Stone slipped from his hands.
roll roll roll
The round stone was kicked by a knight's heel and rolled far away.
Jinwoo futilely stretched his hand towards his lifeline but could not get through the knights. More knights piled on top of him. It was becoming hard to breathe.
'Unyielding Spirit' has been activated.
'Unyielding Spirit' has been activated.
He felt his consciousness fade.
clang! clang clang!
In the chaos of the knights clashing on top of him, Jinwoo heard a laughter coming from somewhere.
- "Didn't you bring all this down on yourself?"
- "Why go down such a dangerous path over a safe one? If an E-rank Hunter became a B-rank, or even a C-rank, wouldn't it have been an incredible stroke of luck?"
- "I guess this is all you're worth."
- "You are the reason you will die here."
The knights that had piled up on Jinwoo were all blasted back. Even on the edge of death, the Hunter's eyes were still alive. They were filled with the spirit of determination.
'I'm not going to let it end like this.'
Just how do you think he obtained this opportunity?
No. It would not end here.
He knew what it was like to be at the absolute bottom of the world, and that's why he desired to stand at the absolute peak. More than anyone else, he knew the weak one's pain. He had done cowardly things to survive and was met with ridicule in doing so.
"How much of a help could an E-ranker be?"
"Even if it's the Association, couldn't they have sent someone more helpful? This guy's just…"
"Is that punk just surviving by hiding behind his teammates?"
The ladder to the peak that he had only dreamt about had finally appeared before him. Did they expect him to just stare and do nothing? There was no way.
That voice in his head. It was "their" voice. The voices that whispered behind his back.
Sure, go ahead. Laugh.
I will struggle until the end.
It doesn't matter if my health is 10 or 1. I will fight to the bitter end. Until my bones are dust and my muscles are torn.
Jinwoo threw his body at the knights.
His fist flew forward. A knight's breastplate caved in and its wearer was sent flying. Like a bowling ball, the flying body knocked down other knights in its path. Unrelenting, the knights charged at him once more. Jinwoo struggled even harder.
Bang! Smash! Boom!
Fists. Elbows. Knees. Feet.
Jinwoo threw every part of his body at his enemies. Each time he attacked, a knight crumpled like a paper doll.
Your fatigue is over 70.
Your movements will be restricted.
As the warning said, his body began to slow down. But the light in Jinwoo's eyes did not fade. Eventually, the knights continued even after one or two hits. Still, if they won't go down in one hit, he would just strike them twice. If they won't go down in two hits, he would strike them three times. Four times. Five times.
...8, 7, 6, 5
Meanwhile, some sort of a countdown was happening. Jinwoo was focused on the battle at hand and had not noticed it before.
'What? Is the quest ending?'
His brief moment of hope was quickly dashed.
The quest timer was still climbing. Whatever was happening in front of him was unrelated to the timer.
4, 3, 2
'Are you counting down to my death?'
Jinwoo thought to the System. He remembered the first time it spoke to him. How it threatened to stop his heart in 0.02 seconds if he did not accept becoming a player.
Jinwoo's eyes opened wide.
'I'll use you until the very last second.'
Two more knights were crushed. However, compared to his fighting spirit, Jinwoo's body was unrecognizable. The strength behind his shoulders were gone. The slowed fists could no longer block the knights' attacks.
One from the front, one from the back.
Crushed between the two charging knights, Jinwoo let out a painful groan.
Not missing the opening, the knights closed in on Jinwoo once more. Imprisoned by the multitude, he could not lift a finger.
Even still, more and more knights piled towards the Hunter. The silver tide turned in to a silver mountain. Jinwoo breathed what he imagined to be his last breaths.
So this was the end.
Somehow, Jinwoo found a small opening and stretched his hand to the sky. It was a meaningless gesture in the moment.
HP: 93 / 10,270
The situation was hopeless.
But Jinwoo did not give up.
'No, not yet… just… a little more…'
The hand that was held to the sky clenched into a fist.
In that moment, the unknown countdown finished.
You've failed to complete the Daily Quest.
You will now be moved to the Penalty Zone.
: "dimensional gates" (차원의 문): "dimension" 차원 + "door/gate" 문. Not the same word as the "Gates" that have Dungeons.
: "gates": I'm not sure if it means anything, but this time, Jinwoo uses the english word for "Gates". The same as the "Gates" that have Dungeons.
: "eye of detection" (탐지의 시선): "detect/spy/search" 탐지 + "eyes/sight" 시선