Top Warlord players did not hesitate to do whatever it took to bring out at least a little more of their potential. Their methods of doing so were called Doping Recipes.
Doping Recipes of Rankers even sold for money, and in-game doping potion recipes and materials sold for a rather high price. This was one reason why raids took an enormous sum of money.
An Jaehyun, of course, had his own Doping Recipe. However, he could never sell it for money.
In front of An Jaehyun was a large cup the size of a glass of beer than a coffee mug. 2/3 of the glass was filled with coffee, while An Jaehyun dropped several mysterious white objects into it. These white objects weren’t sugar cubes, but the glucose candy he often ate.
He continued to pour in glucose candy, so much so that he wasn’t putting candy in his coffee, but his coffee soaked in candy. An Jaehyun did not stop until the coffee was on the brink of overflowing. Then, he lightly sipped his coffee. Tasting the mixture of cheap sweetness and cheap bitterness, An Jaehyun frowned.
The reason others didn’t try An Jaehyun’s Doping Recipe was obvious. Although caffeine and sugar were both great for energizing the brain, it was too barbaric.
‘Ugh, too bitter.’
An Jaehyun himself knew how barbaric his method was. But as he had no money to work with, this was the best method, and its effect was clear. With just a sip, he woke up from his previously sleepy state and his mind became clear.
‘Alright, let’s see what new things happened while I was asleep.’
Now completely awake, An Jaehyun turned on his tablet PC and began to look through Warlord-related news.
[Hydra Guild, First to Discover Level 100 Monster. Preparing their Hunt.]
The first news to catch his attention was news about the Hydra Guild.
With the help of coffee and glucose candy, An Jaehyun quickly worked his brain.
‘The first level 100 monster… Black Metal Warrior was it? Didn’t they fail five or six times before they succeeded?’
An Jaehyun knew the future, but he didn’t know everything. He only knew the general flow of it. The details, he would have to fill in by reading various news articles.
‘I wish they’d fail more while they’re at it.’
To Hyrkan, the entire Top 30 Guilds was his enemy. Getting revenge aside, to become the best in Warlord, he had to go beyond the Top 30 Guilds.
‘The Black Metal Warrior is related to the Corrupt Count main scenario quest, so the Corrupt Count quest line should begin after this. Tsk. I need to get on this quest line to obtain the titles I need, but with my level… ugh, not a chance. If only I came back just 10 months earlier… I’d be the one killing that Black Metal Warrior. What a shame. Then I’d be getting the title for myself too…’
In any case, An Jaehyun enjoyed reading these news articles and reaffirming the details of the future he knew.
“Well, no choice I guess. Looks like I’ll have to make it up in The Immoral Prince, the next main scenario.”
An Jaehyun felt as if he had become almighty being.
‘The Immoral Prince… back then, I could only stay in the side lines and suck on my fingers. But now is different. Come to think of it, the Ares Guild that led The Immoral Prince main quest earned quite the money from it.’
An Jaehyun let out a light grin.
‘Yep. Be it the Hydra Guild or the Ares Guild, doesn’t matter! I’ll be the last one to laugh, hahaha!’
But this light grin…
[Stormhunter Queen defeats Head Hunter!]
Became twisted as he read the next article.
Stormhunter Queen Choi Sulyeon.
An Jaehyun got a headache just reading her name on the paper. With her, he had an irreconcilable relationship.
He even clicked his tongue.
Of course, An Jaehyun didn’t want to continue seeing this name, but he couldn’t just avoid the name altogether.
‘If anything, I’ll do it for you, Choi Sulyeon.’
Turning off his tablet PC, An Jaehyun drank his coffee bottoms up as if it was a glass of beer. He threw the remaining candy in the cup in his mouth.
He bit down with all the anger he could muster.
Standing in front of a cave, Hyrkan turned on the flashlight app on his watch.
A fist-sized sphere of light appeared from his watch. He grabbed a hold of the light sphere, and equipped it to the skull of the Skeleton Warrior next to him, making it look like he was wearing a miner’s hat. Then, he smacked the Skeleton Warrior’s head and yelled.
The Skeleton Warrior lightly touched the place he was hit, then walked into the cave.
As he watched the Skeleton Warrior go in, Hyrkan had a solemn expression.
‘I’ll finish this in one go.’
The Rising Star title wasn’t something that could be so easily obtained. Most players would fail even if they were given the chance.
One had to clear what would normally be at least a level 20 quest at level 15. The quest difficulty was just too high. But that’s why it was called the Rising Star title. It was for someone who could do at level 15 what others could at level 20. Only someone of such caliber would be worthy of being called a Rising Star.
Plus, a 3-man party was the standard in Warlord. Quest difficulties were set with 3-man party being the standard. In other words, Hyrkan had to do alone what a 3-man party would find hard to do.
It was in no way easy.
‘If I can’t do this at level 15, it just means it’s too difficult for me to do.’
That’s why he got to level 15. Though everything would come to waste if he leveled up during the quest, it was a risk he had to take. As he didn’t have the capital to plaster himself with unique-rank items, this was the best he could do.
Hyrkan pulled his sword out in advance, and lowered his stance. Concentrating on everything around himself and his Skeleton Warrior, he followed behind it. His concentration was now sharper than ever.
‘Throw whatever you want at me.’
The smile beneath his hahoe mask was as frightening as a serial killer’s. It demonstrated his confidence to catch whatever that’s thrown at him.
But after just 10 minutes, his smile shattered.
With a snap of his finger, he yelled.
Then, irritated, he scratched his head.
‘Why isn’t there a single monster?’
For 10 minutes, Hyrkan remained tense, as if he was walking on a mine field. But nothing came out to greet Hyrkan. There wasn’t even a single split path, which was common in a cave like this. He had been walking through the same, long path continuously.
‘My whole body’s itching.’
These 10 minutes have been mentally taxing. Hyrkan wasn’t just walking; he was walking while maintaining peak concentration and tension. Furthermore, the limited vision from the darkness, the one way path, the unchanging scenery, and the enclosed space all caused more stress. It was like staring at a clock on the wall in a white room.
Hyrkan hopped in spot and slashed in sword in thin air. It wasn’t to warm-up his body, but rather his mind. Only after did the knot in his mind unravel. Hyrkan then reassessed his situation.
‘Looks like there’s something huge ahead.’
Hunting grounds had their own styles as well.
Even at the same difficulty, some were difficult because of the sheer amount of monsters, while some were difficult because there monsters were more-powerful in place of being fewer in number.
Anyone could tell that it was currently the latter.
‘It’s not so bad…’
Hyrkan thought it was better to fight against a few than multiple. This also lowered the chance of leveling up.
‘But it’s not necessarily good either…’
Even so, it was hard to find comfort in this situation. In the end, he would have to face a strong monster.
After organizing his thoughts, Hyrkan held his watch to his mouth.
He began walking.
The Skeleton Warrior suddenly stopped on his feet.
“Hm? Walk! Go forward! Why’d you stop?”
Even with Hyrkan’s yelling, the Skeleton Warrior remained still in the darkness, turning around and staring at Hyrkan blankly.
What’s this, a protest? The thought only glanced by before it quickly disappeared.
‘Could it be?’
He walked past the Skeleton Warrior, then stared at the empty space. He couldn’t see a thing. Complete darkness blocked his sight, and not even the light on the Skeleton Warrior’s head could shine light through it. Rather than darkness, it was as if there was a barrier made of darkness blocking their path.
Hyrkan reached his hands out into this darkness.
[Would you like to enter the stage?]
Immediately, he heard an alert.
‘As I thought, an instance dungeon.’
The darkness came from an instance dungeon.
In Warlord, instance dungeons weren’t too important. In fact, instance dungeons were often tied to quest. Once the quest was cleared, the instance dungeon would often disappear. This was why instance dungeons weren’t too important. They couldn’t be recycled.
Instance dungeons had their pros and cons.
The pro was that they were isolated from the outside. This prevented others from interfering and messing with whoever was inside. This was why guilds welcomed instance dungeons. They could do everything according to their plan. Furthermore, as instance dungeons required success on the first try, it served as a good symbol of achievement.
But it was not without flaws.
‘I can’t run…’
Though players were free to enter, they weren’t free to leave.
If it was a field, Hyrkan could simply run if he went up against something he could not handle. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that an all-strength necromancer like him was built to escape. If it came down to it, he could use his Skeleton Warrior as bait and run. But this didn’t work in instance dungeons. He couldn’t leave before killing the monsters inside. He couldn’t expect any outside help either.
It was a true deathmatch.
Because of this, Hyrkan let out a short groan.
He didn’t know what was inside. He couldn’t escape either. He had no reinforcements. It was kill or be killed. With this in mind, the darkness in front of him was truly full of unfavorable conditions.
Most players would choose to back out here. It was the logical thing to do.
‘It’s indeed dangerous.’
Hyrkan didn’t deny this fact either. The risk was greater than he had expected.
‘But there’s more to obtain as well.’
The merit was bigger as well. Hyrkan organized the things he could obtain in his head.
‘Kill the monsters inside the instance dungeon alone, then acquire the Rising Star title… now, quest-related instance dungeons have a high chance to giving a related title. Since there won’t be any outside interference, I just have to deal with whatever’s inside. I don’t need to worry about other monsters either. It’s not like I lost any strength on my way here, and I’m still in my top condition.’
He had a lot to lose.
However, more so than ever before, he was sure of his current intuition.
‘If I can film this well, it’ll pull in a good amount of views.’
His intuition told him that this battle video would turn out great. It wouldn’t be wrong to say he had full assurance.
‘The baits are in place. I’ll at least get ten thousand within two weeks.’
The Rising Star title and solo-clearing an instance dungeon had great synergy as bait. Furthermore, anyone could tell it was something not everyone could do.
‘I mean, what crazy bastard would do something like this?’
Something not everyone could do. To earn money in Warlord, this was what one had to do.
Far more people watched Warlord-related videos than did people play the game. What the viewers wanted to see was someone accomplishing something that was seemingly impossible. No one wanted to watch something that anyone could do.
To earn money, one had to capture these viewers. The money one could earn in-game through hunting and item crafting was incomparable to the money one could earn from pay-to-watch videos. It was why guilds and Rankers challenged unfathomably strong monsters.
Danger represented a chance to earn viewers!
‘Once Skeleton Fragment cooldown ends, I’ll go in.’
Hyrkan made his decision.