“Give me a 10,000 won worth.”
An Jaehyun took out 2 five thousand won bills from his wallet. The convenience store’s part-time worker tilted his head in a daze.
An Jaehyun adjusted his thick glasses and spoke again.
“Can I get my lottery ticket?”
The part-time worker snapped out of his daze and took the money. He then smoothly picked out a lottery ticket for An Jaehyun. While handing out the ticket, the part-time worker kept examining An Jaehyun’s face.
“Um, have I met you before?”
Putting the lottery ticket in his wallet, An Jaehyun left the convenience store without giving him an answer. At this, the part-time worker titled his head again.
“I feel like I’ve seen him before… gah, whatever.”
The part-time worker shook his head and grabbed his tablet paper from the counter. He unpaused the video and watched it with great interest.
-Mr. Kim Dongsoo, how’s the situation right now?
-The Albino Dragon received heavy damage to his right wing. Our first objective has been accomplished.
-What about the losses?
-We lost five so far.
-Do you think you’ll succeed in killing the Albino Dragon?
-The Stormhunter Guild is Warlord’s greatest guild, and our Hahoe Mask team is its strongest attack team. We don’t worry about success or failure. We only worry about how we’ll succeed.
-Haha. Without a bit of romance, who would suffer through such hardships?
The part-time worker smiled lightly as he watched the video.
“As expected of the Stormhunter Guild. It’s really the best. None of the other guilds is its match after joining up with the Hahoe Mask Guild.
Following his smile was a slight sense of disappointment.
“What a shame. If only they still had the Hero Slaughterer… what is he doing these days? Did he quit the game completely?”
The part-time worker once again tilted his head at this question. But that was it.
Soon, he silently went back to watching more videos.
An Jaehyun had long disappeared from his mind.
‘Fuck. I can’t believe you can’t buy a lottery ticket from your home in this day and age. Why do you have to be there in person? What, are people worried a five-year old will buy one online?”
An Jaehyun gritted his teeth remembering the part-time worker from just now.
But his anger soon died down. He remembered the video the part-time worker was watching.
‘Albino Dragon. Level 439.’
An Jaehyun had already watched the broadcast. In fact, he even bought the 30,000 won live ticket to watch the raid. The Stormhunter Guild failed four times, barely succeeding on the fifth.
‘If I was there with my old team, I would’ve killed it in first try.’
He was sad that the Stormhunter Guild didn’t fail, and he was sad that he wasn’t there participating.
What he was most sad about though was…
‘Damn it. If I killed that thing, I wouldn’t need a lottery ticket.’
The value of the Albino Dragon.
It was a huge pile of money. It was the highest leveled monster in Warlord so far. Each raid sold over five hundred thousand live tickets. If the raid was successful, then the edited paid video could get at least ten million views.
‘I heard they sold over 350,000 live tickets. They’re each 30,000 won to boot.’
A live ticket allowed someone to watch a raid in real-time.
The successful raid video cost money to view, but it easily passed three million views within its first week of release. Although you’re only left with about forty percent after taxes and fees, it was still an incredible amount.
There was more.
‘A boss monster in the 430s. The item cost…’
Large monsters, especially boss monsters, are pretty much made of money.
Dragons were especially expensive. From the bottom of their tongue to the wrinkles in their anus, every part of them was money.
Their hides were used for defensive items and their bones for weapons. A dragon’s heart was the greatest material for a magic weapon, its meat and organs could be used as potion materials, and its eyes sold for a hefty price to a rich collector…
‘If a level 400+ unique item pops from those materials, its price would simply be whatever the seller calls.’
At the very least, those materials can make a level 350 gear. The price of those go by the millions. If it’s over level 400 or if it’s a rare rank, it’d be in the ten millions. If the crafter gets lucky and pops a unique rank, it’d be worth an expensive sports car. Warlord is filled with rich people who would buy something like that without blinking an eye.
Taking all this into account, the Stormhunter Guild probably made about a hundred billion won with the Albino Dragon raid.
That was this era.
Just by killing a single monster in a game, you could earn more than a major corporation affiliate could in a whole year.
An Jaehyun could have been the hero of this era. Back then, if he just crawled and begged like a dog, if he sold his worthless pride and wagged his tail at that woman…
Or, if he didn’t go crazy because of his worthless pride, if he didn’t war with them over his anger at their betrayal, if he gave up and started over from elsewhere… he wouldn’t be buying lottery tickets and surviving on ramen noodles like now.
‘So I turned out to be the one regretting that day for the rest of my life.’
On that day he was betrayed, the words he yelled haunted him in his nightmares. Because of it, An Jaehyun kicked his bed sheets every night.
An Jaehyun slumped his head down.
“God damn it…”
Just a bit more.
If he wasn’t betrayed, he would have obtained wealth and fame along with everyone else.
No, the ones who betrayed him did obtain wealth and fame. Their SNS pages were filled with pictures of them riding the best sports car, going to celebrities’ birthday parties, and wearing and using countless brand names.
An Jaehyun was the only one swimming in the sewage.
An Jaehyun was well past his mid-twenties. He was staring at the 30 year old mark with nothing to show for himself. He was far from any wealth or fame, and he was barely getting by with his gaming skills.
At that time, An Jaehyun’s watch vibrated. He checked its screen and held it next to his ears.
-What are you doing lately? Still playing Warlord? You didn’t delete your character or anything, right?
“The character is still there, but I don’t play it anymore.”
-What level are you?
“Bro, don’t mess with me. Or are you really curious?”
An Jaehyun clenched his teeth.
He declared war against Stormhunter Guild and the betrayers. He fought against the world by himself.
It wasn’t so bad at first. An Jaehyun was strong. No one at his level was his match. He could even win 4 on 1 against higher level players. So at first, he killed anyone he came across. His gain wasn’t small either. Items from a Stormhunter Guild member were nothing to scoff at. Each kill could net him about as much as a monthly salary of a major corporation’s new employee.
The problem was stamina. If he died once, he wouldn’t be able to play for another 48 hours. He was facing up against groups of hundreds of top level players.
As a result, their difference in stamina turned into difference in levels and items. No other guild or raid team would accept him as a member, and many wouldn’t even buy his items. Choi Sulyeon was a frightening woman. She overwhelmed An Jaehyun, not through the game, but through the real world.
In the end, An Jaehyun gave up. When he dropped his main weapon from a game over, he quit Warlord. He hasn’t played since. He just watched related videos and broadcasts.
It’s not like he’s given up on games. He looked into other VR games, but none made as much money as Warlord. He managed to get into an AOS game called The Legend, which barely gave him enough to get by.
He met Jung Taehoon in The Legend. He was a broker. He connected skilled players like An Jaehyun with those hopelessly bad at gaming and collected fees.
They haven’t had much contact recently. Because of An Jaehyun’s over-the-top skills, The Legend admins put a year-long ban to his account. Jung Taehoon was the first one to cut his contact with An Jaehyun.
But now he suddenly called and poked at An Jaehyun’s past wounds. It would have made anyone feel bad.
“Just get to the point. I’m tired of having my hand up.”
-Are you perhaps interested in working at a Chinese workshop? It’s 5 million won a month, excluding bonuses. All paid in cash.
Hearing his words, An Jaehyun was more sad than happy.
A Chinese workshop. It’s pretty much a sweatshop. They work people like machines, human rights don’t apply. They’re just human machines, their personalities and talents ignored completely. It was a place simply to make money.
It was really the end of the line.
People who couldn’t do normal part-time jobs went there. For old celebrities like An Jaehyun, going there would be no different to selling organs. It was throwing what little pride he had left down the drain.
Realizing he was at such a point, he felt sorry for himself.
“Bro, I’m the Hero Slaughterer. I’ve killed those Stormhunter fuckers 733 times, and you’re telling me to go to a Chinese workshop and work like dogs?”
If he were going to sell his pride like this, he should’ve done it a long time ago.
-Come on, don’t be so uptight. The conditions are great. Plus, you’re probably not going to make much money off Warlord now that all the Top 30 Guilds have you on their wanted list. Your leveling stopped too. You might’ve been at the top back then, but level 250 now can barely get you to the top one percent. You realize what that means, right? From the 10 million or so players, over a hundred thousand are better than you.
“I know that…”
-Swallow your pride and work for just one year. With your skills, you can earn about a 100 million in a year. You’re going to be thirty soon. It’s a whole different life from then. You should have at least a 100 million prepared.
“No, no, I’m fine. I’m hanging up.”
-Call me if you change your mind. There’s always a spot open for you.
An Jaehyun lightly spun his watch dial with an expression full of anger. The call ended. He wanted to chuck his phone, but it was impossible for a watch-type phone. Even if he could, he wouldn’t because of the cost.
‘God damn it.’
Could things get any worse? An Jaehyun wanted his messed up life to be a bad dream.
He didn’t want to fall and give in to his life.
Moreover, he had confidence.
‘Warlord is hard for me right now, but Warlord isn’t the only game. If I get that 100 million, wait until a decent game comes out, start playing from the beginning, get into the top rankings, and make a guild… given 2,3 years I could probably…’
An Jaehyun definitely had talent. He may be socially awkward, tone deaf, hopeless at sports, and uneducated in real life, but in the game world, he had the confidence to not lose to anyone.
An Jaehyun lifted his hand.
He knew it was unsightly to accept an offer he had just refused, but he didn’t think much of it.
[Calling Jung Taehoon.]
An Jaehyun put his wrist watch next to his ears, and he listened to the ringtone. It was Michael Jackson’s Billie Jeans. The half-a-century old song sounded fresh in his ears.
At that moment.
A giant truck struck the bus station An Jaehyun was waiting in.
-Good decision, Jaehyun! Let’s do this! With these conditions, you can totally pull it off. Right? Jaehyun? Say something!
He was 29 years old.