༺ Marie Dunareff (1) ༻
The boss characters of each of the arcs in ❰Heroic Legends of Arhan❱ were tough foes that brought the player deeper into the immersive world. The boss of the 1st Arc, ‘Marie Dunareff the Vampire’ was a tragic character that suddenly threw one of the key aspects of this world at the player.
Her sudden appearance as a boss of the final tier, Unique Grade, allowed the player to feel just how immensely strong they were, while showing off the heroic nature of the player that allowed them to overcome the problem in the end.
At the same time, it displayed the fall of Marie Dunareff, who had resiliently held onto her human nature even at the face of such a tragic incident.
The life at the Academy, which felt like it would be all fun and games at the start of the story suddenly turned bleak and grim in an instant, and it was through this episode that the developers showed their ‘true colors’
That was the tragedy I had to challenge myself to, now that the player wasn’t here.
My job was to save the girl who had faced a great misfortune and a terrible end.
It was fate which even the protagonist of this world was unable to change, and that was why Park Sihu had tried to make use of this tragedy as efficiently as possible.
But was this seriously an unstoppable tragedy?
To be frank, that wasn’t really the case.
With enough preparations.
And with enough faith.
As long as we topped all that with good enough members, the unfortunate story of that one girl was actually one that could lead to salvation with relative ease.
That was why I did not want this story to follow the original plot. I did not want her story to end in misfortune like the sequences of fate which went by the name of ‘scenario’,
Like how I resisted against the player who had insisted on efficiency, monopolization and jackpot,
I want a happy ending for her story.
So what if I am being a little inefficient?
And so what if I can’t swallow everything for myself?
And also, how is it a problem even if I can’t hit a jackpot and have fewer benefits?
Everything is fine as long as we have fewer deaths.
Do we even need a reason to save people?
This evening’s lesson was supposed to be carried out by Lady Josephine in preparation for an external mission.
It was a mandatory course of the 1st semester, where we would hear theory on practical things like camping outside and managing food, and carry out an actual external mission as a test.
“Dude. Did you hear that?”
I was opening my book and preparing myself for the lesson when Jaeger came up and whispered at me.
“You know Hua Ran. That demonic bitch.”
It was very concerning to see Jaeger say that even though Hua Ran could fold him to death using two of her fingers. However, that was the impression which was shared by everyone inside the class.
Although she was wearing nun clothes of the church, anyone could tell that the chains wrapped around in talismans were there to restrict her.
Why would a student be wearing restrictive clothing? That naturally made them see her as a demon.
“I heard she was locked in isolation.”
“Yeah. Apparently there’s actually a special facility in this Academy that locks dangerous demons inside…”
Jaeger then continued narrating several conspiracy theories, but he wasn’t completely off the mark.
There really was a special facility in this Academy that was dedicated to demons. To be fair, it was more of a rectifying facility that tried to help demi-humans control their overflowing mana and violence.
Aside from the fact that there was a barrier that somewhat suppressed their powers, it was just a fancy personal accommodation.
Hua Ran had used more power than necessary to hurt Marie so it was natural for her to receive some level of repercussion.
What I didn’t understand was why Hua Ran had started moving already.
‘She should have been quietly listening to lectures…’
That was the same in the previous iteration and the game. She incited fear from the surroundings due to being a demon, but she didn’t do anything in particular and quickly went under the radar.
“That’s why that monster…”
“Calling her a monster is a bit…”
“Oi, aren’t demi-humans practically just demons? Do you have any demons around you, Lark? Just think about how many humans they killed…”
Lark chimed in and the conversation was about to turn long when a female professor wearing a loose robe walked in after opening the door.
“Hello everyone. I am Professor Lulara Mars from Alchemy~. Deputy Principal Josephine has other things to attend today, so I will be carrying out the lecture instead~.”
Lady Josephine was known for not changing the schedule unless it was a serious problem.
Why would someone like her skip a lesson?
‘Is it because of Hua Ran?’
Considering how Hua Ran created a big ruckus during the practical lesson, it was understandable for a special measure to be taken place.
Without thinking too much of it, I glossed over the small event.
The deafening thud resonating across the training rooms probably gathered the eyes of other students. They would have crowded in if not for the privacy curtain.
It had already been 3 days since the end of the practical lesson at the hunting grounds. For the past three days, I came straight to the training rooms after the lessons and spent all my time here.
My combat strength that I tested at the hunting grounds was quite satisfactory. Even though they were still very inexperienced, I still managed to defeat Alicia Arden, a strong character, and the Golem User Kranel Luden.
However, this was still far from enough. I probably had better fighting senses than Park but my stats were weaker in comparison to how he was at this point in time.
Leaving aside the level I had achieved with my spearmanship, the problem was that my body couldn’t handle condensed aura. My ripped palms and the vividly protruding veins was proof.
What was fortunate, at the very least, was that the wounds left behind by the recoil from the skill was already being recovered thanks to the ❰Regeneration of the Tenacious Warrior❱.
‘I might actually be able to recover even if my intestines were to fall out.’
Judging by the speed of the regeneration, it was probably at the level of a Grade 2 skill. But I didn’t get to test it as much – maybe I had to get injured on purpose just to test this out.
Condensed aura that worked in alignment with Six Ways of the Spear was a skill with way too big of a risk, but the regenerative ability came in for the clutch and offsetted the risk by a lot.
But still, the best choice was to obtain a body that could withstand the skill so here I was today, diligently training myself again.
– She still hasn’t left the hospital?
– Yeah. Looks like she’s still very sick.
The 2nd year students were looking quite strange these days. The main topic of their discussion was Marie who hasn’t shown herself for 3 days ever since the incident at the hunting grounds.
It was understandable on the first day, but ever since the second day, her roommate Isabelle was also unable to be spotted and no-one was allowed to visit Marie either.
Naturally, it would have been hard to leave unscathed after a clash with Hua Ran but… Marie was the final boss of the 1st Arc. Not being able to see the first Unique Grade boss of ❰Heroic Legends of Arhan❱ made me quite anxious.
‘Should I try visiting the hospital?’
I was walking down the Academy campus with that thought in mind when I came across an unexpected person.
Alicia Arden was wrapped in bandages while eating a potato croquette, and was greatly startled upon seeing my face.
“Why are you so surprised?”
“Mhmm…! Gulp! N, no? I am not surprised!”
“Have your injuries gotten better?”
I didn’t feel sorry or anything about causing injuries. The common courtesy in the Academy was to refrain from blaming others about wounds that were caused during lessons and practices.
“Are your bones fractured?”
“No. It’s just a few cracks. I just need to rest for a few more days.”
“Rather than blocking condensed aura with aura, the best option is to offset it using the same resonance. There is no reason to bother blocking a dense amount of power from the front.”
Her eyes had a strange glint to them as she gazed at me.
“Mr. Korin. Are you… really a Grade 5 Knight?”
I showed her my student ID card and the sign that said Grade 5 Knight.
“See. I am a Grade 5 Knight.”
“W, what kind of Grade 5 Knight beats a Grade 2 Knight!? Are you perhaps disguising yourself?”
“No, I am definitely weaker than you.”
“I’m serious. Here…!”
I threw a sudden fist at the unbelieving Alicia. It was the fastest jab I could throw, but Alicia quickly stopped my fist with the potato croquette still in her hands.
“See that? It was meant to be an ambush but it was easy for you to stop, right?”
No matter how much power I put into my fist, I couldn’t take it out and all I could do was sway it back and forth a few times. It was an overwhelming difference in power and even Alicia seemed surprised by it.
Her eyes appeared to be saying that she hadn’t expected me to be this weak.
“The difference between a Grade 2 Knight and a Grade 5 Knight is like that of heaven and the earth. You are stronger than me but…”
I added a slight trick to my fist. As soon as an outburst of dense aura grazed past her palm, Alicia hurriedly retrieved her hand in a fluster.
It was too late when she belatedly raised her arms back up for a guard, and my finger was already poking into her cheek.
“I will always be the one coming out on top.”
“Ughh… Please remove your hand.”
There was a rare sign of blazing frustration in her expression, which was something you wouldn’t see often from someone as docile as her.
That was to be expected, because she was a successor candidate of a renowned household of swordsmanship.
No matter how low of a self-esteem she had, she would still be discontent with the gibberish from a random Grade 5 nobody.
“I once saw Lunia Arden fighting.”
She was Alicia Arden’s older sister from another mother, and a competitor who was aiming for the position of a successor.
Alicia turned visibly gloomy the moment I mentioned her name.
Yes, I know about the inferiority complex you have for Lunia Arden, and your fear. The target of your admiration and terror.
The relationship of these sisters was a lot more complicated than expected.
“Are you… my elder sister’s acquaintance?”
“No. I told you I just saw her fighting from a distance.”
We actually fought together in the same party quite often but, well… that wasn’t the case in this iteration so I wasn’t lying.
“She was strong. Probably the strongest out of all the swordsmen I know.”
It might be funny how a Grade 5 random person was giving out evaluations about a possible Unique Grade swordsman, but Alicia was quite serious when listening to me.
There were many things Alicia had been hearing the whole time – ‘You are worse off than your sister’, ‘Your sister would have done it differently’, ‘Your sister used to do this when she was your age’.
The reason Alicia Arden gave up on having any hopes for her swordsmanship also stemmed from the difference in their ability and the constant comparison. But more than anything, there was probably also the vigilance and contempt she received as an illegitimate child.
“But talent-wise, you’re better.”
Alicia asked back while endearingly tilting her head. She then repeatedly blinked her eyes as if those words were completely outside of her expectations.
“I can guarantee it. Your talent in sword is superior than your sister.”
“T, that’s impossible! There’s… there is no way I am better than elder sister!”
“It’s up to you to believe it or not, but since you are at the Academy anyway, you might as well try it seriously.”
“A, are you really a Grade 5 Knight?”
“I just have a tad bit of more experience than others.”
For 3 years, I fought against countless monsters while clearing the scenario. None of them were weaker than me and I had never been the strong one in a fight, but…
None of those mountain loads of powerhouses managed to beat me.
I was about to sneak into the hunting grounds after a quick dinner, but noticed how rowdy the campus was.
– Have you found…
– Nope, I’ll head to the outskirts.
I was very unsettled. The two people that walked by just then were Professor Deina from the Magic Department and Professor Fermack Daman from the Knight Department.
They were the symbolic guardians of Merkarva Academy. Aside from them, there were also a few security guards running around and the campus was overall in a very disordered state.
“Did one of the experiment subjects escape or something?”
Considering how Professor Deina, who carried out live experiments on dangerous beasts, was also here, it might be because of an escape of a demonic beast or a demonic spirit of the laboratory.
It was quite rare yet frequent in Merkarva Academy. Even in the game, Marie’s boss fight had taken place at the laboratory. She would move the demonic beasts of that place around as her familiars and defeating them was the 1st phase of the fight.
Well, there was still a month to go though. Away from the eyes of other students and professors, I arrived at a certain lake located at the corner of the hunting grounds.
Because of how far it was from the center, it wasn’t managed properly and there were plenty of tall weeds nearby. I was here to meet the being that was living in this place.
But first off, I had to force some water out of my eyes.
While giving a noisy shout, I wobbled my body. My staggering hands were carrying the Seed of a Mandrake and…
“Oh noo! I’m falling!!”
I fell down in an exaggerated manner and dropped the seed into the lake.
“This can’t be! What should I do? Noooo! What am I supposed to do!! NOOOO!!”
I continued screaming while sneaking a glimpse.
Hitting the ground, I acted as if I was aiming for the Academy Award of Best Actor. It was definitely an amazing act but it seemed that it wasn’t spicy enough yet.
“Nooo! The one and only seed left behind by my mother…! NUUOOOOOOOO…!”
– Bubble bubble!
I forced out a few more tears when the center of the lake started to bubble as an old man appeared from inside.
“Hohoh. Why is it that you are weeping so much?”
The old man appeared after being moved by my awesome act, gazed down at me with a benevolent smile.
A hidden piece that could only be used once in ❰Heroic Legends of Arhan❱ which had the narrative written by the scenario team of a Korean company…
It was the God of Lake.
The Honest Woodcutter.
It was a famous fairy tale in Korea and the original was from Aesop’s Fables or something.
It was a very famous story where the God asks, ‘Was this what you had lost?’ to the woodcutter who dropped an iron ax into the lake while showing him golden and silver axes.
This God of Lake also existed in ❰Heroic Legends of Arhan❱, and while walking by this lake, there would be a prompt asking, ‘Will you drop any items inside?’ so it was quite common for players to chuck several items inside the lake.
Because the original was about golden and silver axes, most of the players threw weapons that were below the Unique Grade but… it didn’t lead to any result no matter how many weapons people threw inside.
But old-timers of a game weren’t someone to be looked down on. They were people that did all sorts of wacky stuff that others would not even try!
『I tried dropping 500 trash items into the Lake today LOL』
There was the so-called ‘Trashing Challenge’ that began by one of the players, and among the players were brave heroes who even dropped precious items inside.
And I was one of those brave heroes.
“Is this golden seed yours?”
“No. That golden seed isn’t mine.”
Those nerd developers must have been giggling to themselves while wondering if anyone would ever find this hidden piece.
“Is this silver seed yours?”
“No. That silver seed isn’t mine.”
What kind of mental retard would drop the Seed of a Mandrake which you had to exchange for strenuously hard-earned 100 points?
Well, that was me!
“Hohoh. Then this seed must be yours.”
“Yes. That’s correct! That definitely is my seed.”
“I see that you are an honest man who does not get greedy from seeing gold and silver. In honor of your honesty, I shall give you all 3 seeds.”
“Oh my! Thank you very much!”
The God of Lake disappeared after giving me the three seeds.
Even if you dropped more items inside, this God of Lake would not show up anymore. It was a hidden piece which could only be used once.
After double-checking that the God of Lake wasn’t here, I turned to the beautiful seeds on my hands.
❰Yellow Golden Seed of a Mandrake❱
❰White Silver Seed of a Mandrake❱
❰Seed of a Mandrake❱
“Huhuhu! Now this is a dupe bug!”
Honesty is overpowered.
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