It was a difficult training spot where only users over level 250 could survive. It was filled with ferocious One-Horned Wolves, and was also the home of the boss monster Scarface. The level 355 Scarface was without a doubt one of the top 9 strongest monsters discovered in the game so far. It was truly a monster among monsters.
Only the top-level players of the world’s most popular game, Warlord, could step into this place. It was why the Ulbrid Woods was one of the quietest places in the game world. Of over ten million players of Warlord, less than five thousand were at this level.
That said, the place was currently crowded with people, enough to describe it as congested.
There were over forty players filling up what little space remained between the tree trunks. Some even stood on the branches of the trees that soared into the skies like columns of the Parthenon.
And in the center, there was a single man.
He was wearing what could only be described as hiking clothes. His outfit resembled a soldier’s camouflage uniform, letting him blend in with his surroundings. This average-looking man seemed like an ordinary hiker, nothing more and nothing less.
On the contrary, the ones surrounding the man wore yellow and green uniforms. The males wore coats that resembled what the army executives wore during World War II, and the women wore wearing knee-high skirts unfit for traveling in the woods. Their fashion was passable, but it wasn’t appropriate for the situation.
A very tense, emotional situation.
At An Jaehyun’s shout, a man across from him clenched his mouth even harder.
“Why are you doing this?”
An Jaehyun asked the man again.
With his mouth still shut, the man let out an apology. An Jaehyun could only be dumbfounded by the apology, and simply scoffed at the man.
“Fuck, are you for real?”
At this moment, a memory from four years ago flashed across An Jaehyun’s mind.
The year was 2036, a year after the virtual reality game, Warlord, made its debut. With its release, Warlord completely dominated the field of VR games. Anyone hoping to become famous transferred to Warlord. There were endless opportunities for wealth and fame.
That was when An Jaehyun first met Kim Dongsoo. He had already built a name for himself in another VR game, and he was looking for life-long comrades to start anew. That was when An Jaehyun joined hands with him.
The two of them held an unbreakable relationship. In his four, long years with Kim Dongsoo, An Jaehyun hunted monsters, raided bosses, and fought with other players. They were battles with their lives on the line. It would have been weird for them not to develop such a close relationship.
Their bond was not only unbreakable, but tight. The number of lives they lost trying to save each other neared a hundred. In-game death meant being unable to play for 48 hours and dropping a random item in the player’s possession. For such a price, they were willing to die many times over.
That was the kind of person Kim Dongsoo was to An Jaehyun.
Someone closer to him than his own family.
Now, he wore an emblem on his chest. An emblem with five lightning symbols forming a whirlpool of lightning.
The Stormhunter Guild.
They were rivals Kim Dongsoo and An Jaehyun had to overcome to achieve the wealth and fame they so deeply desired. They were also the enemies they had been facing for the past four months.
“Brother Dongsoo, if you’re trying to throw me a surprise party, fine. But please, don’t cosplay as those lightning-struck lunatics.
Only An Jaehyun would call the Stormhunter Guild by that name.
Warlord had over ten million active users, and over a hundred million people actively following the game. There weren’t many people who could treat one of Warlord’s Top 30 Guilds like it was his neighbor dog.
Of course, it wasn’t that An Jaehyun didn’t understand the situation he was in.
Cosplay? Surprise party?
“Doesn’t look like you guys are interested in my jokes.”
It wouldn’t be wrong to say An Jaehyun was the stupidest man alive, but he wasn’t so dense as to not know the gravity of the situation.
“You told me to come to Ulbrid Woods in such a hurry that I thought you found a Gold-Horned Wolf or something. I even dropped the fried chicken I was eating to log-in, and this is what I get? If that wasn’t enough, you betrayed me for the Stormhunter Guild? Of all the Top 30 Guilds, why those fuckers?”
An Jaehyun thought his heart would burst from just thinking about what was going on.
“Alright, fine. Let me hear the reason first.”
“How much did they offer? How much did they pay to make you backstab your comrades of four years?”
“I didn’t betray my comrades.”
At Kim Dongsoo’s reply, An Jaehyun placed his hands over his ears, as if he had just heard the most ludicrous thing.
“Huh? Did I hear that right? You didn’t betray your comrades? Did the National Institute of Korean Language change the definition of ‘betray’ while I wasn’t aware? Or did I just hear wrong? If I did, I’ll have to report this as a bug.”
“As of today, the Hahoe Mask Guild is a sub-group of the Stormhunter Guild.”
An Jaehyun could only let out empty laughs in response. He’s laughed countless number of times in his life, but he never thought he could choke out an empty laugh like this.
And in response to An Jaehyun’s laugh, Kim Dongsoo delivered the final blow.
“I’m sorry Jaehyun. It’s just you that needs to die.”
An Jaehyun’s laughing stopped, and he became expressionless.
A bone-chilling glint appeared from his eyes. It was frightening enough to cause goose-bumps even in a VR world. Some of the surrounding men and women took in a deep breath. If they didn’t, they thought they would be suffocated to death.
At that moment, a woman appeared from behind a tree.
A model-like height and an awe-inspiring figure. The woman wore skin-tight skirts and a short-sleeved shirt. Her long, straight hair was tied in a ponytail, giving off the impression that she was full of energy.
Plus, she was extremely beautiful.
Her lips formed a small arc, forming a cute smile. Her smile seemed to have the power to intoxicate others.
With such smile, the woman stared at An Jaehyun.
She called his name.
An Jaehyun clicked his tongue.
She lived a completely different world than An Jaehyun, and would continue to live a life he could never imagine.
She was the heiress to Korea’s leading chaebol family. From birth, she was raised to aim for the top. She was Korea’s leading model, on top of being an abled businesswoman who would become the leader of Korea’s economic world.
When she first started Warlord, millions of people were curious what a talented girl like her could accomplish with the backing she had.
As if to respond to her expectations, Choi Sulyeon became one of Korea’s top players. She gathered the top players of Asia to form the Stormhunter Guild. It was with her effort that the Stormhunter Guild became one of Warlord’s Top 30 Guilds.
No one seemed to be capable of blocking her way. At least, no one was her match anywhere within Asia. Even if she were to say this herself, it would not be arrogance, but a cold hard fact.
That was… until An Jaehyun appeared.
“My ears are wide open, you don’t need to say my name twice. Besides, since when did we get so close to call each other by our real names? If you don’t want me cutting off your neck and playing volleyball with it like before, then shut your mouth.”
“An Jaehyun, An Jaehyun, An Jaehyun.”
An Jaehyun barely suppressed himself from yelling out his thoughts. Looking at him, Choi Sulyeon let out a enchanting smile.
“So? What do you think about this situation? Cool, isn’t it?”
Four months ago, the Hahoe Mask Guild and the Stormhunter Guild clashed.
The Hahoe Mask Guild grew at an astonishing rate, and in just four years, it became powerful enough to threaten the Top 30 Guilds. The Hahoe Mask Guild’s first Champion Title Match was against the Stormhunter Guild.
They faced each other in several small clashes, and in the end, a representative from each guild fought in an one-on-one duel.
Choi Sulyeon… no, the Storm Queen Shir fought against An Jaehyun, otherwise known as the Hero Slaughterer Hyrkan.
Their live battle sold over six hundred thousand tickets. Even with each ticket costing ten thousand won, they managed to sell so much in a single week. It showed how much the world was interested in their battle.
A massive debate sparked over the outcome.
On one side was the Storm Queen, who played the game since its Beta days and never left the top 50 rankings. On the other side was the Hero Slaughterer, someone who started playing a full year after the Storm Queen, yet managed to rise to top 100 rankings. He had already slain thirty three rankers.
However, the real battle betrayed their expectations. It was nothing more than a one-sided slaughter.
An Jaehyun’s overwhelming victory.
It was as if a puppy had been paired up to fight a tiger. An Jaehyun completely dominated Choi Sulyeon.
With this victory, the Hahoe Mask Guild was no longer one of the numerous challengers for the Top 30 Guilds, but a guild that could easily enter it given the chance.
In fact, it was speculated that the Hahoe Mask would take one of the 30 broadcasting studios as its sponsor, and officially become one of the Top 30 Guilds. They only had to wait for the broadcasting studios to finish their annual Warlord Guilds Analysis. Many sponsors flocked to the Hahoe Mask Guild, while sponsors of the Stormhunter Guild slowly backed out.
‘We would’ve had a live channel in 2 months!’
All An Jaehyun had to do was wait. In just two months, he would obtain the wealth and fame he had been working for.
That’s why he couldn’t understand Kim Dongsoo.
Why would he betray him?
What would he gain from it?
There was one thing An Jaehyun knew for sure.
Choi Sulyeon. This bitch had done all this just to screw over An Jaehyun. He didn’t know what she did, but she did it to a perfection. She was thoroughly prepared to send An Jaehyun to hell.
“Don’t just glare at us, say something. How are you feeling?”
“I feel like someone chopped my head off and played with it like a volleyball. I’d imagine you know exactly how it feels like.”
“You can still joke around? Impressive.”
Choi Sulyeon’s expression changed. Her smile disappeared, and she took on a serious face befitting the guildmaster of the Stormhunter Guild.
“I’ll give you one last chance. Kneel and swear your loyalty to me. I’ll take you in, too.”
It seemed like Choi Sulyeon wanted to turn him into her slave.
An Jaehyun contemplated for a short time.
If he were to tell Choi Sulyeon to fuck off, the Stormhunter Guild would chase him to the ends of the earth to PK him. His life would become a lot more difficult. To top it off, his own Hahoe Mask Guild would be leading the charge to kill him.
The logical answer would have been to concede.
Being humiliated was nothing compared to losing everything he had worked towards. If it was the old An Jaehyun, the talentless and pitiable him, then he would have cast aside his pride.
He might have even waggled his butt at the thought of serving a beauty like her. He would have crawled on the ground to show her a good performance.
No, he wasn’t any different now.
He’d lost everything with nothing to show for. All he had left was his pride.
Pride that no one cared about.
A cheap and worthless pride…
‘Never thought I’d make a self-discovery like this.’
He couldn’t do it.
An Jaehyun, although he could give his pride to a random dog on the streets, could not give it to Choi Sulyeon.
To Choi Sulyeon’s question, An Jaehyun remained silent.
Kim Dongsoo urged him, but An Jaehyun ignored him too. Instead, his hands quickly spun the dial on his watch.
“Fuck, is he crazy?”
“Everyone get ready!”
Choi Sulyeon, Kim Dongsoo, and the rest all moved their watch dials.
When the dial pointed to the number they wanted, they shouted,
In an instant, sticky liquid poured out from their watches and covered their bodies. The liquid immediately turned into defensive items. Some wore shining suits of armor, some wore loose, fluttering clothes, and others wore uniforms giving off a holy aura.
On the other hand, An Jaehyun wore a tight fitting black leather clothing. He brought his hands next to his waist and grabbed the hanging hahoe mask.
He quickly swiped on the mask and spoke through the mouth gap.
“I’ll make you regret this day for the rest of your lives.”
The Hero Slaughterer Hyrkan!
He declared war against the Stormhunter Guild and the Hahoe Mask Guild that betrayed him.