Kang Oh was awarded 5,000 gold by the Mercenary Association. He'd earned it. After all, he'd contributed the most by far in the previous war.
But he'd also gotten so famous that he found himself in hot water.
Everyone and their mother offered to buy him drinks as he walked through the streets of Kasten.
He'd gotten so irritated that he took off his helmet and yelled, "I'm human!"
The western, non-human tribes dislike humans, so Kang Oh believed that revealing his human status would give him some space.
They actually cheered for him instead.
"I thought you hated humans?"
"I do. But I like the Hero of Kasten!" someone said.
"Hero of Kasten! Hero of Kasten!"
"Haa, this is such a pain."
After that, Kang Oh removed the Baramut set and his demon sword, and changed into completely different clothes.
He had no idea that his face and identity would be revealed to the entire world because of this.
* * *
The gaming network, VG, had a program called the Ranking Show.
The Ranking Show looked at Arth's leaderboard, discussed any changes to it, etc.
"Hello. This is Kim Hoseon."
"This is Lee Yumi."
Kim Hoseon and Lee Yumi, who'd both long since served as MCs for the program, bowed their heads.
"Let's take a look at the Numbers first, shall we?" Hoseon said.
The screen showed the rank and IDs of the top nine players.
"Not a lot has changed here. As always, Emperor Dukeram is #1, and the Master of Gold, Wang Seo Rim is #2. Everyone else is in the exact same spot." Hoseon glanced at Yumi.
"You're right. None of the ranks have shifted ever since Setinel's Sage, Shion, became number 9. There aren't any new Numbers either. When do you think we'll get a new one?" Yumi asked. It was clearly a question from the script.
"Hmm. We might be able to see one soon."
"Really?" Yumi looked surprised. She was exaggerating since she was on TV.
"It's still up in the air, but... We've found a player that we believe will become one of the Numbers in the future."
"Oh, who is it? Is it someone I know?" Yumi asked pressingly.
"Let's take a look at rank 10 through 99, or the high rankers, first," Hoseon said, and the screen showed the high ranker's ranks and ID.
"Do you see anything in particular?"
"I'm not sure." Yumi tilted her head.
"Take a look at rank 13."
"Rank 13, huh... Rank 13... Kang Oh?"
Kang Oh was definitely 13th.
"That's right. Have you heard of him before?"
"No, I haven't. That's strange. If he's this high up, then he should be extremely well-known by now." Yumi looked like she couldn't make sense of it. The Numbers weren't the only famous players in Arth.
Several high rankers were famous. She should've heard about Kang Oh at least 10 times by now if he was 13th.
"Who exactly is Kang Oh? Our production crew was so curious that they began looking over the previous leader boards. And they discovered something shocking."
"What is it?"
The screen showed a graph depicting Kang Oh's exponential rise in the ranks.
"This chart shows Kang Oh's progression from ranker (top 10,000) to now. Take a look at how quickly he rose through the ranks. Isn't it amazing?"
The graph shot right up, depicting his exponential rise in rank.
"He rose through the ranks extremely quickly. It was to my understanding that the higher rank you are, the harder it is to climb the ranks..."
"That's what's even more surprising. Kang Oh was outside the top 100 just a month ago. Three weeks ago, he was 79th, and two weeks ago, he was 37th. And just recently, he hit rank 13."
"As expected." Yumi nodded her head repeatedly. She was basically saying 'Amazing! Amazing!' in an exaggerated fashion.
"I'm sure you all remember the rise of the Genius Highschooler, Bart. He came out of nowhere and almost instantly became one of the Numbers," Hoseon said.
"We've charted Bart's meteoric rise in the ranks."
Bart's rise through the ranks was likewise exponential.
"They're quite similar. So now you understand why I said that he has the potential to become one of the Numbers," Hoseon said.
"I understand now!" Yumi said with certainty.
"Now then, who do you think this player is?"
"That's what I'd like to know. He didn't just come out of nowhere, did he?"
"Of course not. He's quite a renowned player."
"Who is he?"
"He's none other than... We'll reveal his identity after a commercial break!"
A short while later...
The program continued after the commercial.
"Hello again! Who exactly is Kang Oh? Please take a look at this," Hoseon said, and the screen changed.
The streets were filled with a variety of non-humans species, including anthromorphs, elves, orcs, etc. Kang Oh was walking on the streets, equipped with the Baramut set and Demon Sword Ubist.
Kang Oh then pulled off his helmet. "I'm human!"
"I thought you hated humans?"
"I do. But I like the Hero of Kasten!"
"Hero of Kasten! Hero of Kasten!"
"Haa, this is a pain." Kang Oh then pushed through the crowd with some difficulty. That's where the footage ended.
"A staff member of ours provided us with the footage. We originally sent them over there to get some footage of the war in the west."
"I know who this is!" Yumi said.
"The Black Beast, also known as Red Wing. This is Mr. Oga."
"Exactly. Tiger-striped armor and a jet-black sword! It's definitely Mr. Oga. But the fact that you've showed us some footage of Oga while talking about Kang Oh means..."
"It's as you think. Kang Oh is Mr. Oga!" Hoseon declared.
"Wow!" As always, Yumi reacted exaggeratingly.
"It's said that everyone knows who the Hero of Kasten is in the west. But you saw how everyone was calling Mr. Oga that, right?"
"Yes, I did."
"But Oga, or Mr. Kang Oh, might've had quite the past."
"What kind of past?"
"Ms. Yumi, do you know what Warlord is?"
"It was a popular game that came out before Arth..."
"I've never played it before."
"If you did, then you would've known that the name 'Kang Oh' is quite familiar."
"Were they a famous player?"
"Of course. The Human Dragon, Kang Oh. He was a legend."
"Then the Human Dragon, Kang Oh, and the Kang Oh in Arth might be one in the same."
"It's just an assumption at this point. It could just be a coincidence. However... if they are the same person, then wouldn't it be an interesting topic of conversation? The news would probably say something like this, 'The Return of a Legendary Gamer'," Hosen said.
"Mr. Kang Oh. The doors to VG are always open. Please contact us anytime!" Yumi said.
"We welcome any information on Mr. Kang Oh as well. Please post anything you know on the Ranking Show message board."
"Hoo, hoo. What a wild ride."
Yumi moved on. They still had some news they needed to tell.
"Now then, let's go on to the next topic. This person is..."
Though the Ranking Show hadn't ended yet, people on Arthtory were going crazy.
[Oga = Kang Oh?]
[Kang Oh (Oga). Will he really be able to get into the Numbers?]
[Kang Oh (Oga) highlight video.]
[Kang Oh, the second Bart?]
[Post regarding Warlord's Kang Oh.]
[Human Dragon Raid Failure - Highlight Video.]
[The legendary gamer, Kang Oh?]
Jin Cheol called him.
One of GBS's producers, who was in charge of covering the western war, wanted Jae Woo's contact information. Jin Cheol wanted to know if it was ok to share Jae Woo's contact information with him.
"What's all the fuss about?"
"You're the hero of the west, Mr. Jae Woo. VG's Ranking Show has also increased your popularity. He must want your footage of the battle," Jin Cheol said.
"Give him my contact information. And tell that producer that I really like money."
"Understood. Oh, by the way... Do you plan on having an official interview or going on TV as Kang Oh, not Oga?"
"I'll think about it."
Kang Oh thought it was still premature. He planned on taking advantage of his fame after he became one of the Numbers. After all, it cost a fortune to get one of the Numbers on any network! He would accept all the offers after he joined the top 9.
"Alright then. Goodbye."
After that, he received a call from Han Eol, the producer Jin Cheol had told him about.
Jae Woo said he'd send the footage, and asked him to offer an acceptable sum after watching it. Then, he hung up.
Hye Rim called him even earlier than Jin Cheol, but she too wanted him to take part in an interview or a program.
He told her that he'd think about it, exactly the same thing he'd told Jin Cheol, and sent her the Battle of the Kasten Plains footage.
'I wonder how much this footage will go for...'
Jae Woo couldn't wait.
* * *
- I saw the Ranking Show. Are you alright? Your true ID and your face were shown.
It was Sephiro. Kang Oh immediately messaged him back.
- I'm not fine.
'The more secrets you have, the better! But it can't be helped. It's already water under the bridge.'
- The networks keep bothering me, asking me to introduce them to you. May I give them your contact information?
- Wanna die?
'Don't bother me!'
- Ugh. Then I'll let them know that if they have anything big lined up, then they should contact you in private.
'Anything big' referred to something that would make him a lot of money.
- Please do.
- Anyhow, when did your rank get so high? Rank 13!? What's your secret? How did you manage to raise your rank so quickly?
Sephiro asked. He'd only just become a middle ranker (top 1,000).
- Just do your best!
- So you're one of those types. The ones who say 'Studying is easy!'. You suck.
- Are you jealous?
- I am... a little jealous. Just a little bit! Anyhow, won't you join the Numbers at this rate?
- I will.
The Numbers were no big deal. Kang Oh's ultimate goal was to drag Dukeram down from his throne.
- The thought of you joining the Numbers!
It seemed as though the prospect of him becoming one of the Numbers made him really jealous.
It was only natural. After all, one's worth increases exponentially once they reach the title of 'Numbers'.
- Work harder. We're so far apart that we can't be seen together.
- Ugh! I didn't want to go with you! You just dragged me along for the ride.
Kang Oh could almost see Sephiro's eyes shaking as he messaged him.
- I'm going to keep dragging you around.
He wouldn't let him off the hook; he'd continue to make him work like a dog!
Sephiro didn't reply. Had he resigned himself? Or was he being passive aggressive?
'Well, it doesn't really matter either way. He'll continue to be Worker #2.'
Of course, Worker #1 was Eder. He'd heard that he was working for Man Bok and was helping him with his business.
Kang Oh grinned and closed the message window.
"C'mon, let's go faster!"
Kang Oh stroked his black horse's neck.
His horse ran at top speed.
His destination: Bernice Canyon!
The home of the brutal wyverns.Previous Chapter Next Chapter