It was rare for high rankers to think they were inferior. They were normally confident in their great talent and believed that the gap between their ranking and that of others was a calamity caused by various variables which took place over time. The gap between the rankers was as thin as a piece of paper, and even that was caused by various variables and ‘luck’. This assertion of the high rankers came from true faith.
However, that was until last year. The high rankers’ beliefs were shaken during the three national competitions. They realized just how arrogant their claims were. The rumored sky above the sky—Kraugel—showed off his skills to the world, and Grid—who was thought to be a lucky person—showed great progress year after year. The high rankers didn’t have the same level of talent, and they had to admit there was a clear difference between them.
“I was going to completely abandon the PvP this year.” There was a man who carried a name that ‘promised victory.’ He was Bubat. Bubat had been defeated by Grid multiple times and recognized Grid’s ability more quickly than anyone else. This year, he became Turkey’s representative and once again sought the PvP event. “But it turns out that Grid isn’t appearing this year...? Then there is no reason to give up. This year, the gold medal in PvP is mine.”
The Yak Guild members asked:
“Why are you so fixated on PvP?”
“I agree. You will drop out in the round of 16 again.”
“The round of 16? If you meet Kraugel in the qualifiers, then you will be eliminated in the qualifiers. Kilkil.”
If Grid didn’t exist, would Bubat be 1st in the PvP event? The Yak Guild knew about Bubat’s strength, but even they couldn’t guarantee it. PvP was an event where a ranker’s pride was at stake. Kraugel, Seuron, Regas, and other strong players participated in the event. The others in the Yak Guild were frustrated with Bubat, who thought Grid’s absence would be a chance to challenge PvP.
“Last year, you lost to Zhang Zheng... It might be different if PvP is a team event, but it is a solo show. It is too disadvantageous for Captain...”
Bubat’s Crusher class had high levels of defense and various CCs. In particular, the two skills he had learned upon reaching level 360 could ‘ignore status resistance’ and show an absolute effect. However, what was the point of CC? Bubat didn’t have the power to defeat the enemy.
The PvP of the National Competition was too disadvantageous to Bubat. Yet he was confident. It was thanks to a gift given by a Turkish person who claimed to be a big fan of Bubat.
[Artina’s Natural Disposition Gloves]
It was a legendary item. It was a great item that boosted the wearer’s attack power in proportion to the wearer’s defense. The fan who presented it to Bubat was eager for him to raise Turkey’s status this year.
“Huhu. Look forward to it. This year will be different.”
Kraugel was no longer the supreme. Grid had proven it last year. Bubat was confident in his strategy against Kraugel. Although Bubat’s chances of success might be slim, Kraugel was judged to be an opponent that could be defeated even if it wasn’t by Grid.
It wasn’t just Bubat. Two years ago and last year, the rankers—who were stunned by the growing Grid and had vowed not to participate in PvP—felt new hope. After Grid declared that he would be absent, many people decided to participate in this year’s PvP.
It was as expected. There was a flood of provocative articles all over the world. The rankers from different countries announced their intentions to play in PvP, shouting that they weren’t afraid of Kraugel. The focus of attention was naturally on Kraugel.
“Kraugel, many rankers have announced that they are confident against you. What do you think about this?”
“I think they can be confident if they are on the same level as Grid.”
Camera flashes started going off at the press conference. The reporters’ expressions were thrilled at Kraugel’s answer.
Don’t be confident unless you are on the same level as Grid. I won’t lose unless it is Grid.
Kraugel’s words had this meaning. It was an answer filled with enough confidence and provocation to make a stimulating article.
Then a reporter asked a new question. It was a question that many people around the world were interested in. “There is a public consensus that Grid is running away from the National Competition. Kraugel, what do you think about Grid’s absence from the National Competition?”
Grid fled because he was afraid he would lose his title of champion. This was one of the public opinions regarding Grid. What did Kraugel think? Kraugel stared indifferently at the reporters and replied briefly, “It is mercy, not running away.”
The reporters couldn’t understand what Kraugel meant right away. He cocked his head to one side. On the other hand, the smart reporters quickly started to write their articles. As Kraugel watched the bustling scene silently, a question popped into his mind.
Kraugel was aware of the fact that Grid needed ether diamonds. At the present time, the only way to get ether diamonds was to participate in the National Competition. Thus, Kraugel knew the news that Grid wouldn’t participate in the National Competition was false.
‘Are you the demon king?’
‘It is harder than I thought.’
There were seven new additions to the National Competition, one of which was the demon king subjugation event. Grid got a thorough understanding of the rules for the demon subjugation and felt disgruntled. The castle had north, south, east, and west gates, and each of the four heavenly kings protected one gate.
The players would be split into groups of 120, and they had to break through the gates. During this time, the demon king would wait in the castle and receive 200,000 bonus health for every 10 minutes that passed. The waiting time would end when all four gates were broken.
The most troubling part for Grid was the bonus 200,000 health per 10 minutes that he would receive. He had to maintain his spot while the four heavenly kings fought, and he would get 200,000 health every 10 minutes...?
‘Isn’t this too much?’
Grid’s defense and magic resistance were beyond the category of a player. He wouldn’t suffer much damage unless the skills used were proportional to health or defense. Yet his health was going to increase by 200,000 health every 10 minutes...?
‘The gates that the four heavenly kings are guarding can’t be broken through easily.’
Grid’s health might actually exceed one million in the demon king subjugation. However, Grid was uneasy because the S.A Group created such a system despite knowing his specs.
‘It seems that the National Competition participants are stronger than I thought...’
He was already prepared for a tough fight, but this might be tougher than expected. It was comforting that his sister, Sehee, wasn’t participating in the National Competition. Grid shook his head at the scary thought. Still, there was something he didn’t know.
Originally, the S.A Group had set it as the demon king’s health increasing by 500,000 per 10 minutes. Grid was so strong that the health increase was lowered from 500,000 to 200,000.
What was the reason for this? It was known only to the S.A Group.
“By the way, is this the right road?”
Grid stopped and opened up a map. It was the map of the Sword Grave.
“It should be right...”
Grid was stupid, but he wasn’t stupid when it came to directions. That’s how he managed to find the North End Cave that contained Pagma’s Rare Book. There was no problem with Grid’s ability to read a map. Currently, Grid was following the map precisely.
However, the road was strange. This was the correct road, but it disappeared in the middle.
“What is this?”
There was a sheer cliff in front of where Grid stopped. It was a cliff that wasn’t marked on the map which showed a plain mountain path instead.
‘Is the map wrong?’
Was the map a fake? Was all his struggling in vain? Then it happened as a chill was going down Grid’s spine... The cliff in front of Grid suddenly started to split apart. The crack began to widen, and the cliff split into two cliffs. It was as if they had been separated in the first place.
Grid saw the path between the cliffs and moved without delay. From the moment the cliff split in two, the terrain was the same as what was shown on the map.
Sighs and curses came from all over the place. It happened when Skunk turned the 594th sword three times to the left and four times to the right. The hill sank down and became a plains again.
The 594th sword was the problem. It was hard to figure out how to turn this sword, which could rotate 27 times to the left or the right. He needed to figure out in what order and direction the right ‘key’ was.
“It is already the 28th failure. It will take a few hours to start again from scratch.”
“Everybody’s morale has fallen. I think it is better to stop for today,” a subordinate spoke carefully to the frowning Skunk.
Skunk’s response was sharp, “Now we only need to figure out five swords. It isn’t long before the Sword Grave will be opened.”
“I know your heart, but do we need to hurry? It has been several months already. There are only a few days left, so we should be calmer and careful. The work can be ruined if we rush,” Dog Woman’s persuasion calmed Skunk.
Skunk took a deep breath and nodded. “Yes. There is no need to rush.”
Skunk’s Expedition Group had been investigating the Sword Grave for the past five months, and no one had ever visited it. Considering the fact that Skunk’s Expedition had taken six months to find the Sword Grave, it wasn’t possible for someone to appear here and steal their results. There was no need to fret about a loss.
Skunk controlled his heart and told his subordinates, “Everyone has worked hard. Let’s end it here today. Have a good night’s sleep and rest for tomorrow.”
“Thank you for the trouble.”
“Thanks for the trouble.”
Phew, it was finally over. Hearing Skunk’s words, his subordinates were relieved and opened their system windows. They wanted to log out and relax their exhausted minds and bodies. Even so, they couldn’t go and rest.
In the Sword Grave, the unidentified fragments that never moved suddenly started to flash with a blue light.
Of course, they knew that they weren’t really stars. The blue lights were floating too close to be stars, and they were emitting a bright blue light during the day. Still, they shone as beautifully as stars and the people couldn’t grasp it with their hands. Thus, the people were forced to call them stars.
“Maintain your place!” Skunk shouted at his subordinates who were shaking at the phenomenon that had never happened before.
Skunk’s explorer’s intuition and accumulated experience were telling him something. At this moment, the Sword Grave was going to change due to a new external factor.
‘All of a sudden...? What...?’
This didn’t feel good. Skunk swallowed his saliva.
“Ugh. I’ve finally arrived.” An uninvited guest appeared.
Skunk and his subordinates paled as they confirmed the man’s appearance.