Chapter 18. Connections (1)

“…170,000 won?”

My tone went up at the unexpected price.
The Portal worker retorted unfazed.

“Yes. From Seoul to Gangwondo Wonju, it’s 170,000 won.”

Unlike from Cube to Seoul, going to Seoul to Gangwondo had a price. I bought my card with me, but 170,000 won wasn’t a small amount to pay, especially now, when I was trying to save money.

“Mm…”

“Customer, there are people waiting in line.”

The female Portal worker gave a cold warning. Looking around, I could indeed see many people waiting in line. Seeing as how they each had a weapon with them, it seemed we had the same objective.

“Um… Can something be done with this?”

Before I reluctantly paid the price, I showed her my Cube Cadet Card. I remembered Kim Soohyuk saying something about Cube cadets having benefits, but because this wasn’t a setting I made, I wasn’t knowledgeable about the specifics.

“Huu…”

The Portal worker sighed as though she was annoyed but still accepted the card. But in the next moment, her eyes widened and a much brighter voice came back.

“Ah, you’re a Cube cadet. Cadets are allowed 6 free passes per month.”

“Oh really? That’s great.”

“Would you like to use one?”

“Yes.”

The Portal worker then took my wrist and stamped a seal.
I was genuinely surprised at her complete change in attitude. It seemed being a Hero really was one of the best jobs in this world.

“Thank you.”

“Yes, have a safe trip, Kim Hajin cadet-nim.”

The female Portal worker had even memorized my name.

With a bitter smile, I walked into the Portal.

**


Gangwondo Wonju’s scenery could be summarized with just a sentence.

“So many foreigners.”

Just like in my setting, Wonju was a global city. Although its buildings were limited in height due to the threat of monsters, the city was filled with sturdy modern structures. Foreigners of all skin color walked around with their weapons, while agency employees, who supported them, busily tapped on their tablets. They were likely calculating the price of the day’s haul.
While different from Seoul and Busan, it was indeed an unusual scene.

“We took down a good amount today. How much do I get?”

Hearing a clumsy Korean, I couldn’t help but laugh.
English and Korean were this world’s shared language. Naturally, this showed Korea’s importance and authority in the international community. While this sounded great for Korea, Korea was only a step away from hell.

The Korean Peninsula endlessly produced new Towers and Dungeons. The textbook contained several explanations for it. There was one scientific and geological explanation that I couldn’t understand, and there was also a more religious explanation that said Korea was blessed or cursed by the heaven. In truth, neither was close to the real reason.

In any case, the Korean Peninsula’s numerous Towers and Dungeons produced many monsters. Had it not been for Heroes who could turn them into marketable resources, Korea would have long been destroyed.
However, the Nine Stars, who were nine of the strongest Heroes, had five members who were Korean. One of them even served as Korea’s 20th President. Any further explanation wasn’t necessary.

“You killed three hobgoblins, so after taxes and processing fees, it should be about 600,000 won.”

Under the tax law, foreigners had to pay more in taxes. Even so, foreign mercenaries and Heroes flocked to Korea, because the hunting process was safe enough to make up for the high taxes.
If things became dangerous during a hunt, one could simply send out a distress call, and Heroes or agents would arrive in less than three minutes. Korea was the only country in the world with such a system.

“Take this. You’ll feel better afterward. It’s a troll blood potion.”

“Ah, thank you.”

Seeing the world my setting created, I walked through the streets.
The city was full of interesting things – blacksmith’s workshop, potion store, alcohol bar, etc. With shops that looked like they belonged in the Middle Ages operating in modern buildings, it felt like I was in a game world.
The sentence, ‘Wonju is a famous tourist city,’ which I wrote without much thought, seemed to have caused this setting.

I continued walking and before I noticed, I was at the entrance of the ‘Field.’ There were many people already waiting nearby. I would have to go to Hamgyong Province if I wanted to hunt in a quiet place, but Hamgyong province was too dangerous for the current me.

“E-Excuse me?”

Just when I was about to enter, someone struck up a conversation.
It was a tall, average-looking man with slouched shoulders and circular glasses.
I didn’t know him. He was likely an agent.

“Yes?”

“Are you perhaps here to hunt monsters?”

“…Are you an agent?”

“Ah, yes, here’s my business card.”

I took the business card for now. I didn’t know who he was, but an agent was necessary to sell monsters’ bodies.
But when I looked at the name and the company logo written on the business card, I doubted my eyes.

[SH Agent Head Manager, Park Soohyuk]

“… Mr. Park Soohyuk?”

“Ah, yes, nice to meet you.”

The man smiled as he tidied up his shabby clothes.
Park Soohyuk. I knew who he was. Indeed, he looked similar to how I described him in my novel.
Park Soohyuk should be the most-appearing agent in the novel, as SH Agent would become Korea’s greatest agency.

“Haha, you might not have heard of me. I started this work not too long ago.”

But for now, he didn’t seem to be doing too well.
I smiled.
Connections were one of the most important aspects of life. A person’s future was often the result of ill-relationships and good-relationships one made.
As this world was still in its early stage, there were many who were currently weak but would become prosperous in the future. The best way to get close to a famous person was to become friends before that person became famous.

“SH Agent, I don’t think I’ve heard of it before…”

The only thing that bothered me was that this connection was supposed to be Kim Suho’s.
But since agents usually had multiple clients, it was probably fine.

“It feels like a trustworthy name.”

“Ha, haha, thank you.”

“Ah, by the way…”

I took out my laptop naturally and checked for any changes in Park Soohyuk’s setting. Thankfully, there were none, meaning his extraordinary ability was unchanged.

“My main weapon is a gun. Is that okay?”

“I don’t think why that would be a problem. Gun or sword, mercenary or hunter, it doesn’t matter to me! New customers are always welcome!”

Park Soohyuk put his hand out with a bright smile.

**

Eight bullets were loaded in my gun. Each pinnacle grade magic bullet cost about 150,000 won. Since each low-rank monster went for 300~400,000 won, I couldn’t use more than one bullet per monster due to agent fee I would have to pay.

With that in mind, I walked into the Field.

Park Soohyuk followed me from behind. It seemed he was in a desperate time considering the fact that agents without a vehicle usually waited outside the Field.

“Ah, there’s one there.”

After about 30 minutes of wandering around, we finally encountered a monster.

A large body and protruding teeth, it was a low-rank grade 9 monster called an iron hog. The ‘iron’ part of its name wasn’t because it was covered in iron, but because its skin was stronger than iron.

“I think we should ignore that one.”

When I began to approach it, Park Soohyuk held me back. I asked.

“Why?”

“…Yes?”

Park Soohyuk’s eyes seemed to say, ‘Do I need to explain this too?’

“You can’t kill an iron hog with a gun. Even piercing its outer skin will be difficult.”

“But it’s expensive.”

“Yes?”

The price of a monster faithfully followed the law of a free market economy. Monsters like the undead gave no benefits and thus had no value. Consequently, monsters like these were subsidized by the government

“Even if it’s expensive, attacking it isn’t a good…”

“You’ll just have to wait and see.”

I took out my Desert Eagle and aimed it forward. The gun barrel shined under the blazing sun.

“W-W-Wait just one min—”

Park Soohyuk made a fuss in a fluster, but I didn’t hesitate. I pulled the trigger. The bullet shot straight to the middle of the iron hog’s head, and before the hog could even notice it, it tore through its iron-like skin. There was nothing it could do with its brain shot through. It helplessly fell down.

“Perfect.”

Both the power of the weapon and my skill were satisfactory. I had struck the iron hog’s vital point with pinpoint accuracy.

“…Wow.”

Next to me, Park Soohyuk exclaimed in awe.

Oh, and by the way, the setting I added to my Desert Eagle was simple and effective.

===
[When a monster is one-shot killed by the Desert Eagle, its attack power is amplified.]
—Using low-intermediate rank as the standard, 1% attack power increase per kill.
—Repeated killing of same ranked monsters will slightly lower the amount of attack power increase.
===

By putting in a restriction that required me to put in an effort, I’d added a comparatively good effect for the SP I spent.

“So? Clean, isn’t it?”

Once again, I felt certain about my choice of weapon. Sniping from afar without getting close, it was the perfect hunting method with low risk and low tension.

“Uh… That’s a great gun! Your sharpshooting is amazing too.”

“Haha, I’m flattered.”

I spoke as I pointed at the iron hog’s corpse.

“So how much will this go for? It looks pretty expensive.”

“Well, iron hogs are already pricey and since this corpse is in such a good condition, even after the fees, it should be at least 600… no, 800,000 won.”

“Wow.”

“Hold on. Let me store the corpse first.”

Park Soohyuk took out a pouch from his bag. It should be a magical pouch with a space expansion magic.
Seeing him struggle to put the hog in the pouch, I grabbed the hog’s front leg.

“I’ll help out.”

“Ah, thank you.”

“… This is really heavy.”

But thinking about it now, my strength stat wasn’t that high either.

“Uuk, uk, god.”

“Wow, it really is heavy.”

“Aren’t you an agent? Should you have known this beforehand?”

“…You’re right.”

“I’ll hold its hind legs. You hold the front. Wait, don’t we have to carry the pouch around afterward?”

“Ah, don’t worry, anything inside the pouch will have its weight cut in half.”

“…Only half?”
I couldn’t help but sigh. Indeed, Kim Suho only met Park Soohyuk in his third year. Park Soohyuk was in a bad state even then, so now… well, I could only be thankful that he hasn’t starved to death.

“Ugh.”

“Uuu.”

“Come on, put more strength into it.”

“Sorry, I didn’t have lunch…”

After an hour of groaning and moaning, we finally managed to stuff the hog in the pouch.

“Whew…”

I collapsed on the ground, exhausted. My strength and stamina stat had to have increased with that.

“…It’s already 7.”

Before I noticed, the sun had set and darkness had descended on the Field. A fearsome cold enveloped my body.
From the looks of it, today’s hunt would end with this one kill.
Though I felt a little regret at the huge waste of time, I wasn’t too sad since I got to make a valuable connection.

“So how do we bring this back?”

“Oh, don’t worry about that. If it looks like we really can’t, we just have to call 119[1]. We only need to reimburse them for the trip.”

“That’s ingenious…”

We laughed together. At that moment…

“…Hold on.”

Rustle. A faint sound rang out from a tree.

“Shh.”

I took out my gun once more with my index finger over my mouth. Then, I fired at the direction of the sound.

Thud.

There was no scream. Only the sound of a beefy body crashing down rang out.

“Huh? What happened?”

“It’s a black pelican.”

“Yes?”

Park Soohyuk might not have been able to see anything, but I could see it clearly. My eyes could see a thousand miles away.

“…Black pelican?”

“Yep. Fantastic, we should take this one back too.”

1. 119 is Korea’s emergency contact number

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