"Let's introduce our first hunter!" Jeon Seong Gook raised his voice.
A video played on the screen, and the studio was filled with rousing music.
"You're sure to find them where there's a mystery afoot! The legendary explorer party! Blue Sky's leader, Marco!"
They removed one of the curtains, revealing a foreigner that waved at the camera. He was as good-looking as a foreign model.
'Blue Sky!' Jae Woo's eyes gleamed. 'They've started things off with a big shot!'
Blue Sky believed that no mystery was unsolvable. They had already solved so many of Arth's mysteries. For example, they had conquered the Tower of Mystery, restored the forgotten myth of Turkal, cleared Keleman's incomprehensible quest, revealed the Book of Origin, Admor, etc.
"Need I say more? They are the greatest explorers!"
Seong Gook was right. In terms of clearing quests and solving the continent's mysteries, they were unequaled!
Not only that, but Blue Sky's leader, Marco, was the only player to have gained the title of 'Great' Adventurer. To top it all off, he was ranked 17th.
"I'd like to speak to you, Mr. Marco, but we'll have to hold off on that until after we've introduced everyone."
Seong Gook waved his hand, as if he were swinging a baton, and drew everyone's attention. Then, he pointed at the next curtain.
"Now, let's introduce the next team! If Blue Sky are the best explorers, then the Sword Mercenaries are the best mercenaries! The Sword Mercenaries' vice-captain has joined us today. Let's welcome Mr. Strong Punch!"
Another curtain fell, revealing bulky men in their mid-thirties. If he were shooting a mob movie, then these guys might be his first choice; they just had that look to them.
They fit the stereotype, but they definitely weren't gangsters.
The Sword Mercenaries was made up of martial artists, and 'Strong Punch' was a black belt in Taekwondo.
First it was Blue Sky, and now it was the Sword Mercenaries.
The Sword Mercenaries was one of the top five mercenary groups. Some people went as far as to say that if they quit their mercenary work, then they'd become one of the 5 great guilds, or even become the 6th great guild.
"It's nice to meet you, Mr. Strong Punch!" Seong Gook said curtly.
Contrary to his tough exterior, Strong Punch very politely bowed his head.
"We'll talk more later. Now then, I wonder who'll show up next?"
They removed the third curtain, revealing a cool woman behind it. She was in her mid-twenties at most, but she seemed incredibly mature for her age.
"I'm sure you already know what the Breaker Guild is. After all, it's one of the 5 great guilds! This is Ms. Snow Flower, a swordswoman that leads one of the Breaker Guild's three squads, the Leopard Squad!"
She may not be one of the Numbers, but her skill was on par with them. Helena was the strongest mage in the game, while Snow Flower was considered the strongest swordswoman. She was also ranked 12th, making her the second highest ranked female player.
The Leopard Squad consisted of only the most skilled female players, and their teamwork was the best among the Breaker Guild's three squads.
"I'd like to speak with you, Ms. Snow Flower, but please wait just a little longer!" Seong Gook pointed at the final curtain. "Let's introduce the final contestant that'll join our star-studded cast!"
Dun dada dun!
Thunderous music played.
"Does he even need an introduction? Monsters that catch his eye will never escape; the strongest predator, Mr. Kang Oh!" Seong Gook yelled at the top of his lungs.
The curtain opened slowly, revealing a helmeted Jae Woo behind it. With this, all of the contestants had been revealed.
Blue Sky's leader, Marco!
The Sword Mercenaries' vice-captain, Strong Punch!
Captain of the Leopard Squad and executive of the Breaker Guild, Snow Flower!
The Numbers' Black Beast, Kang Oh!
It truly was a star-studded cast.
* * *
The shoot continued.
Seong Gook spoke with Marco first. "Please say hello to our viewers and give us a brief introduction of yourself."
"Hello. I'm the leader of Blue Sky. My name is Marco. My game ID and my real name are the same." Marco grinned. It was like he came straight out of a magazine.
"You're really good-looking!" Seong Gook gave him a thumbs up.
"To my knowledge, you originally came from Spain. You're quite fluent in Korean," Seong Gook said.
"My maternal grandmother is Korean, so I was always able to speak it. I lived in Korea for quite some time, and before I knew it, I was better at speaking Korean than Spanish."
"Aha, I see. But Mr. Marco."
"Blue Sky is more proficient in exploring than hunting. After all, Blue Sky is a collection of the best explorers in the game. So why did you decide to participate in First Hunter, when it focuses on hunting rather than exploring?" Seong Gook asked.
"I wanted to let people know."
"That Blue Sky isn't just good at exploring. We're just as good at hunting."
"So I can look forward to your performance?"
After that, Seong Gook asked him a few more questions, and Marco politely answered them without any issue.
"I have one last question. Who are you most worried about?"
"They're all amazing people, but if I had to choose..." Marco stared at Jae Woo, whose face was half-concealed by his helmet. "It would be Mr. Kang Oh."
"Is it because he's one of the Numbers?"
"Yes. I'll be keeping an eye out for him."
Then, Seong Gook conversed with Strong Punch and Snow Flower. He would always end by asking them who they were most concerned about.
"Mr. Kang Oh. If I get the chance, I'd like to fight him," Strong Punch, who had a strong presence, said.
"Mr. Kang Oh," Snow Flower replied, but didn't add any reason behind it.
"Now then, let's speak with Mr. Kang Oh, who everyone's so concerned about."
It was finally Jae Woo's turn.
"It's been a while." Seong Gook acted like they knew each other. It must be because they were on Dungeon Conquering Man together.
"Yes, it has."
"You've done well for yourself since then. You even joined the Numbers!"
"Please say hello to our viewers and briefly introduce yourself."
"Hello, my name is Kang Oh." Jae Woo kept his introduction extremely brief.
"Is 'keep it brief' still your motto?"
Kang Oh always kept his responses short on Dungeon Conquering Man.
"People don't change that easily."
"Understood. Let me ask you some questions."
He asked questions like 'What have you been doing lately?', 'Has anything changed for you after joining the Numbers?', 'What are your thoughts on First Hunter' or 'How prepared do you feel?', etc.
Jae Woo answered with 'I've been doing well', 'People I've never met before act like they know me', and 'The reward is mine!'. As always, he kept it brief.
"What half-hearted answers. I understand!" Seong Gook said sarcastically.
Jae Woo just shrugged his shoulders. 'Who cares?'
Seong Gook sighed and said, "This is my last question. Your competitors think you're the biggest threat to them. Who in your mind will pose the most trouble to you?"
Monster hunting was Kang Oh's specialty, so he was confident that he'd do better than anyone. However, the other contestants were not to be underestimated.
'Blue Sky has a ton of connections. Plus, they've cleared countless difficult quests before. The Sword Mercenaries' special-class mercenaries are the best of the best. Finally, Snow Flower's a leading member of the Breaker Guild, one of the 5 great guilds.'
If he were to pick the most annoying contestant, then it'd be...
"Ms. Snow Flower."
"Why is that?"
"Because she's one of the Breaker Guild's executives."
Support from a large guild was huge.
"So if she wasn't an executive of the Breaker Guild, you wouldn't be worried about her?" Seong Gook asked, sporting a mysterious expression.
"Then I'd have picked Mr. Strong Punch, since the Sword Mercenaries' support is not to be underestimated."
"I see. Thank you."
That was the end of their Q&A.
"Then let's reveal the first monster that our distinguished hunters will have to kill. Everyone please look at the big screen."
A monster appeared on the screen, one with a particularly strong presence.
Its entire body was pale gray, which meant that it was a ghost-type monster. It was about 3 meters tall, and its entire body was covered in armor.
Two purple fireballs blazed beneath its visor, and it wielded a giant sword in one hand. It was much larger than even Ubist.
"Ugh, save me!"
"Shit. How the hell are you supposed to kill this thing?"
With each swing of its sword, players would die. Based on their armor, they were at least level 300 players! Despite that, they were completely slaughtered.
'As expected of the 3 Second Demon.'
The 3 Second Demon. It was called that because you only had about three seconds before it killed you. Some players even said that three seconds was too long.
Anyhow, the screen showed countless players attacking the monster, but they all died in the process.
"We can't beat it."
"It doesn't matter how high leveled you are. Why? Fight it and you'll find out. No, die and you'll find out why!"
The video entered with an interview of the players who'd fought the 3 Second Demon before. Some of the players were quite famous too. One of them was called the Tanking Machine, a player whose defensive prowess put him on the level of high rankers.
He ended the interview with…
The giant monitor froze.
"Ugh, it's quite the formidable monster." Seong Gook made a big fuss over nothing. Then, he stared at Jae Woo and said, "Mr. Kang Oh. Do you know what that monster is?"
"I've seen it firsthand."
"Did you kill it?"
"No. I ran away."
"Mm, a monster that even makes one of the Numbers run away! Then let me introduce it again. The monster that you have to kill is the Roaming Galmoss!"
The 3 Second Demon, otherwise known as the Roaming Galmoss!
In the past, he'd gone to Taksen Castle, seeking clues on Demon Sword Blood's whereabouts from the Ghost Knights there. It was there that he'd met the Roaming Galmoss, and he remembered turning tail at first sight of it.
"It's supposedly around level 400, but its level isn't really the problem. Since it cheats!" Seong Gook quoted Tanking Machine. Then, he asked the contestants, "Do you know why?"
"The Reaper of Souls," Strong Punch said curtly. Reaper of Souls was the name of Galmoss's sword.
"It's a ghost-type monster, so it's immune to physical attacks too," Marco added.
"A limited number of party members," Snow Flower said.
"Mm, as expected of our esteemed hunters!" Seong Gook gave them a thumbs up and then continued. "Now then, I wonder how much it's worth? Please show it on the screen!" Seong Gook raised his hand into the air.
100 million won ($100,000 USD)!
"Wow!" Jae Woo gaped. It was much more than he'd expected.
"We took a hit and made its bounty worth 100 million won. Our production crew increased the bounty significantly because there's no appearance fee for this program," Seong Gook said.
Jae Woo and the other contestants weren't paid a penny for this! If they didn't get the reward, then they'd be working for free.
'I can't let that happen. 'Free' doesn't exist in my dictionary!' Kang Oh pledged to kill all of the monsters and take all the rewards for himself.
"Now, let's pick the order that you'll be fighting Galmoss in. As you all know, the order is extremely important!"
The contestants' eyes gleamed.
"Your fellow contestants will be watching you. In other words, if you fail, then the other contestants can use you as a stepping stone and succeed where you could not. At the same time, if you wait too long, you may not get a chance to hunt it at all."
They all already knew about this. None of them were surprised, nor did they look like they'd heard it for the first time.
Seong Gook clapped his hands and focused on his surroundings.
"This is how we'll decide the order. First, choose when you'd like to go. We'll draw lots if there's a disagreement."
"Who wants to go first?"
Marco stared at the ceiling, while Strong Punch shook his head. Snow Flower didn't even move.
Hunting an 'unbeatable' monster would prove difficult. This would also prove true to the players in the studio as well. Thus, going first put you in the worst position. Whoever went first was almost guaranteed to fail.
Also, it was clear that the contestants would copy the methods that the previous contestant used should they fail.
'As expected, no one wants to go first.'
"I see." Seong Gook was about to move on, but...
"Me." Jae Woo raised his hand.
"I want to go first."
"Why?" For a reason that even Seong Gook himself wasn't aware of, he asked 'Why?'.
Jae Woo just grinned. That was enough.Previous Chapter Next Chapter