Chapter 21. The Man Who Conquers Dungeons (2)

Jae Woo's post, 'The Man Who Conquers Dungeons' was extremely popular, and its hits were increasing exponentially.

'What is this?'

Jae Woo accessed Arthtory and was shocked to see his article on the main page.

He hadn't expected this at all.

'It's just a low-level hidden dungeon.'

That's what he thought, but it was different for those viewing it.

Gladiator Oga, who'd cleared the legendary Fight Against 100 Men quest, lived up to his name as a man of mystery, but contrary to this mysterious nature, his post was both friendly and substantial without being boring. 

Plus, his post included unedited raw footage that hadn't been included in the feature broadcast, as well as an image of never-before-seen S-rank Adamantium.

Above all, him giving Darion such a hard time and working him like a slave was incredibly well-received.

- Excuse me, what do you mean by 'if you're like Darion'?

- Haha. You're a Darion.

- I've really lived my life like Darion.

The name, Darion, had become an icon.

The term 'Darion' had become equated with someone who lived all their life getting taken advantage of by other people.

Phrases like 'Darion', 'like Darion', or 'acting like Darion' had become buzzwords and were spreading everywhere.

As a result, he saw several posts with 'Darion' in them on the bulletin board.

"Mm."

Jae Woo closed his browser.

"If it becomes a hot issue, then I'll get more hits, so it's a good thing."

Jae Woo decided not to worry about it.

After all, Darion was a game NPC. Which meant that Jae Woo wouldn't be sued for slander.

* * *

The weather had started cooling down. The rice stalks bowed their heads, and a dull autumn came with shades of red and yellow.

Accompanied by the incredibly stressful Chuseok[1]!

It was also the time that broadcasting companies were busy creating Chuseok programs or TV pilots.

TV pilots.

They could last just one episode or they could be upgraded into an actual series if the public response was positive enough. 

Or testing the waters.

The channel that specialized in games, GBS, was in the midst of preparing a program for Chuseok.

PD Park Jin Cheol had gathered his writers.

This was after his superiors had given him the assignment of creating a program for Chuseok.

"If you have an idea, just say it. Don't be afraid," Park Jin Cheol said.

One of the writers raised their hand.

"Since it's Chuseok, what about a Chuseok cooking competition?"

"Too safe," Park Jin Cheol said.

"How about a battle between a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law in Arth?"

Another writer gave their two-cents.

"It might be fun, but it'll be too awkward for whoever comes after us."

They argued whether they should go with the mother-daughter conflict; it was obvious that it'd be criticized. There was no reason to stir up a hornet's nest.

"Settle down. Give me some more ideas."

They exchanged a few more ideas. Park Jin Cheol rejected each one. He didn't feel like any of them were 'the one'.

But then, the youngest writer raised their hand.

"Alright, go ahead young one."

"There's a buzzword that has been going around on Arthstory." 

"And?"

"The buzzword came from a post that was written by Oga, the one who was in your feature broadcast. The title of the post is called 'The Man Who Conquers Dungeons'. I came up with an idea after reading that post."

"Just get to the point."

Jin Chul didn't like beating around the bush.

"Ok. So, why don't we focus on 'The Man Who Conquers Dungeons'."

"A dungeon conquest, huh. It's a really common idea. And it doesn't work with Chuseok either."

"I thought it would be better to make it a regular program, rather than a program for Chuseok."

"Keep talking."

"We cast players who conquer dungeons, as well as a beautiful female celebrity. And we make the two of them try and conquer a dungeon."

"Hmm."

Jin Cheol tapped the table with his finger. It was their best idea thus far, but it felt like it was missing something. 

"The viewers vote on the quest that the men must complete. If they clear it within a certain time, defeat more monsters than is required, or completely protect the celebrity, etc."

The youngest writer briefly caught their breath.

"If they succeed, they receive a reward, and if they fail, they get a punishment. The program could be called 'The Man Who Conquers Dungeons', or 'Dungeon Conquering Man'."

"Dungeon Conquering Man, huh... They have to do the quests that the viewers voted on, and they have to clear the dungeon with a girl who's bad at games," Jin Cheol said, organizing the youngest writer's idea.

Game channels couldn't get anything more out of dungeon conquests.

However, the youngest writer's idea of coupling a player with a celebrity was a fresh idea.

Allowing viewers to vote on quests would make it easier to secure their involvement and receive a positive response. 

"Not bad. What does everyone else think?"

The others looked favorably upon the idea. The youngest writer raised his hand once more.

"Excuse me, we have to cast Oga. With or without the title, it'll help publicize the show."

"Don't worry about that. I'll make sure to cast him."

Jin Cheol looked supremely confident. His relationship with Jae Woo wasn't bad, and he was ok with everything as long as money was involved.

"Let's start immediately. Make a list of casting choices, and give me a detailed plan and schedule."

The atmosphere within the conference room got a lot busier.

Broadcast companies that needed to prepare a Chuseok program had mountains of work to do come Chuseok season.

* * * 

Jae Woo opened the door to the cafe and entered.

He went with his baseball hat, white tee-shirt, and jeans set up. It meant that he was here for business.

"Over here."

Jin Cheol, who'd come early and sat down prior, waved his hand. Kang Oh approached him and shook his hand.

"Mr. Producer, I enjoyed the Fight Against 100 Men broadcast."

He really enjoyed the 2 million won ($2,000 USD) bonus too.

"It came out good, didn't it?"

Jin Cheol smiled. Because of the feature broadcast, Jin Cheol's performance rating improved, and he'd even received a bonus.

Thus, it was only natural that the air between the two was so pleasant.

"In any case, what did you call me for?" Jae Woo asked.

Jin Cheol had contacted him, requesting to meet in person, and had also selected a cafe near Jae Woo's house to meet.

"I enjoyed your post, 'The Man Who Conquers Dungeons'," Jin Cheol said.

'As expected.'

Jae Woo had expected this. After all, there was nothing else Jin Cheol would call him for. 

"I'm glad because people like it more than I expected."

"You must have been cast several times already."

"Yes, a few people did contact me, but I rejected all of them. Since it was a request for an interview."

Jae Woo didn't want to be revealed to the public.

"You did well. Let me be frank."

Jin Cheol calmly continued. 

"I was selected to direct GBS's Chuseok program. I'd like to cast you for that program, Mr. Jae Woo," Jin Cheol said. 

"What kind of program?"

"The Man Who Conquers Dungeons, or Dungeon Conquering Man."

"It's the same name as my post."

Jae Woo's eyes shined.

"That's why I came in person to cast you. Mr. Jae Woo, please work with us!"

"For starters, you need to pay me if you want to use that name, regardless of whether I choose to participate or not."

It's not like he had a patent on the name or anything, but he staked his claim regardless.

"I'll give you 1 million won ($1,000 USD)."

It was a ridiculous claim, yet Jin Cheol had been prepared to give him that money from the very beginning.

They were planning on transferring the post's popularity to the show.

And if they wanted to do that, it was best to just give Jae Woo his money.

"Will it only air on Chuseok?"

"If it's popular, it will become a regular program."

"Then when it becomes a regular program, I want an additional..."

"The Man Who Conquers Dungeons. Shall we abbreviate it to Dungeon Conquering Man?" Jin Cheol interrupted.

He was being clear that 1 million won was all Jae Woo was going to get.

"May I order something to drink?" 

Jae Woo took a step back.

"Please order with this."

Jin Cheol passed him his card.

'Well, it is 1 million.'

Jae Woo bought the cafe's most expensive drink and decided he'd be satisfied with the 1 million won.

"Here... Please take a look at the program schedule."

Jin Cheol passed him the schedule.

Jae Woo began to read the schedule whilst drinking his beverage.

As its name might imply, it essentially revolved around dungeon conquests.

The quests undertaken were decided by the viewers, and he would be filmed with a beautiful female celebrity. 

And if they were successful, they would be rewarded, and if they failed, they would be punished.

Jae Woo returned the schedule to Jin Cheol.

"How is it?" Jin Cheol asked.

"It sounds fun."

He only said that to be polite.

To be honest, he wasn't sure whether the viewers would love it or hate it.

"Shall we discuss the details?"

"I will not show my face," Kang Oh said firmly.

Since his in-game face and his real face were exactly the same, it would become troublesome for him in a variety of ways if his face was revealed.

'Sometimes, you have to be a little naughty. You can't always be good all the time.'

For example, abusing and cursing Darion, as well as swindling and threatening Eder. He'd already done quite a few naughty acts.

Plus, selling his face would become troublesome in a variety of ways.

'There are those crazies who'll come and try killing me.'

Real-life PK.

A real-life PK occurred when one argued with a psychopath in-game; they would meet in real life and beat up the other player.

So, it was paramount that he protect his private information.

"We'll add a helmet. You're a mysterious character anyway, so they'll expect that from you."

"Please pick a helmet for me to wear."

"We'll pick a good one," Jin Cheol said

"How much is my appearance worth?"

"Normally, a cast member is paid 2 million won ($2,000 USD) and is given other incentives based on viewership."

"What are the incentives?"

"If viewership surpasses 5%, then you'll receive 500,000 won ($500 USD) more."

He'd receive 2 million won at the bare minimum and 2.5 million won ($2,500 USD) maximum.

'Not bad.'

Jin Cheol was offering him quite a bit, as Jae Woo was neither a famous ranker nor was he a celebrity.

Though he was neither a celebrity or a ranker, he was still someone necessary for the program.

It was symbolism.

They needed the man who'd riled up so many people on Arthstory with his post to appear on GBS's own Dungeon Conquering Man.

"Alright," Jae Woo consented.

He had no reason to refuse an opportunity to make money.

And there weren’t really any problems with the program.

'I'll just half-ass it and come home.'

After all, he was inappropriate for TV. He'll just have to applaud a few times.

"I'll see you again when it's time to film."

"Alright."

The two shook hands and parted ways. They exchanged a few phone calls and emails and cemented a schedule for shooting.

* * *

"Hello! This is Soo Ah, Triple Lower's leader!" the leader of the popular girl group, Soo Ah greeted happily.

She was petite, with bobbed hair and pale skin, and adorably smiled with her eyes. She was an idol with a cute image.

'She's cute.'

Kang Oh smiled delightedly.

He was inside the GBS recording studio. They were currently in the midst of recording the Chuseok feature program, The Man Who Conquers Dungeons, or Dungeon Conquering Man.

"Finally, I'd like to introduce the mysterious gladiator, Oga! He successfully cleared the Fight Against 100 Men, and is well known for his post, The Man Who Conquers Dungeons."

GBS's main MC, Jeon Seong Gook extended his hand towards Jae Woo.

Jae Woo was wearing a black helmet that covered his head and went all the way down to his nose.

The helmet that Jin Cheol had provided wasn't adorned with a showy feather.

Instead, it looked refined; it was both simple and cool at the same time.

"I'm Oga," Jae Woo said.

"Aw, c'mon Mr. Oga. Is that all? Please tell the viewers more about yourself," Kang Seol Hee, who was hosting the program with Jeon Seong Gook, said cutely. 

"Not interested."

"You're too much!"

The audience erupted in laughter.

"You'll see. One day, I'll find out your true identity and disclose it to everyone. You'll see how scary a woman's resentment is!"

Kang Seol Hee clenched her fists as if resolving herself.

"If you do that, then I'll investigate your private life and expose it to the world, Ms. Seol Hee. Ah! Are you currently dating someone?" Jae Woo countered.

He wouldn't back down.

"Hing."

"Wow, I guess I can just sit back and enjoy the ride," Jeon Seong Gook said impishly.

Wasn't it tradition to fight? Or at least it was on TV.

"What did you say?"

Kang Seol Hee widened her eyes, glaring at Jeon Seong Gook.

Jeon Seong Gook avoided her harsh gaze and continued hosting the program.

"So we've met all four of our Dungeon Conquering Men and lovely Dungeon Girls."

Jeon Seong Gook stretched out his arms.

"Now, before we choose partners..."

As per GBS's plan, two couples would attempt to conquer two different dungeons.

"First, shall we hear what the Dungeon Girls have to say? Ms. Soo Ah, who would you like to conquer a dungeon with?" Jeon Seong Gook asked.

"Mr. Oga! He's quite popular lately because of Dungeon Conquering Man," Soo Ah replied immediately.

"Well, you heard her. Mr. Oga, how do you feel about the Dungeon Girls' Ms. Soo Ah?" Jeon Seong Gook asked.

"Anyone's fine, as long as they're not Darion," Jae Woo said. 

The audience erupted in laughter at his mention of Darion.

"Alright. Then next..."

Once they were finished with the other participants' introductions and interviews, the cast chose their partners.

The method was simple.

The Dungeon Girls would pick a number, and they would pick their Dungeon Conquering Man based on their number.

"Yes! Ms. Min Joo is the first Dungeon Girl to pick her Dungeon Conquering Man! I wonder who she'll pick?"

"Mm... I'll choose Mr. Bae Shik; he looks like he'll protect me."

"The first choice goes to Mr. Park Bae Shik, who goes by the ID Wild Man!"

Park Bae Shik smiled. He was a broadcast jockey who did his own show.

"Now it's your turn, Ms. Soo Ah."

"I'll go with Mr. Oga."

As expected, Soo Ah picked Jae Woo.

"Let's both try our best," Jae Woo said.

"Ok!"

"Next up..."

* * *

They'd finished picking their partners, so now it was time to pick their dungeons. Soo Ah pulled a piece of paper with all her might and laid it out.

"The Soo Ah, Oga couple must conquer the Maumbharat Palace! The viewers have decided on your quest; you are to clear out the dungeon within 2 hours."

Jeon Seong Gook raised his voice.

At the same time, Soo Ah's face stiffened. It was because of the dungeon she'd picked.

Maumbharat Palace.

It was also known as the Ghost Possessed Palace and was renowned for being a horrific experience.

It was so cruel for her, as she couldn't even watch b-rated horror movies!

Of course, this didn't apply to Jae Woo.

'Maumbharat, huh...'

To Jae Woo, the Maumbharat Palace wasn't a place of terror, but just another hunting ground.

"Now, everyone please pay attention."

Once they were finished designating each couples' dungeons, Kang Seol Hee asked everyone to pay attention.

"If you succeed, you get a reward. If you fail, you get a punishment!"

Once she was finished, a giant monitor lighted up.

It detailed the rewards and the punishments. However, there was a punishment that drew Jae Woo's eye.

'Oga: Upon failure, reveal your identity!'

It was a punishment aimed directly at him.

[1] Korean Thanksgiving.

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