Would you like to support RLN?
LATEST UPDATES

Download our sponsor's game and get 30$ in-game reward!

Remove Ads?
Published at 4th of April 2019 09:42:27 PM

Chapter 4

Hero Hunting (1)


Sponsored Content

Remove Ads?

Translator: Neria, Geass606
Formatter: Geass606
Editor: Nyamh

Revenge. The feeling of it surged through me. I put my mind to work because I already knew. ‘It’s impossible to win against the Flame Emperor using normal methods.’

My heart pounded against my chest and reverberated in my ears. I needed to calm down. Though I was hot with emotions, my mind needed to stay as cool as water.

It was difficult, though. Because, really—I’d just died. And not only did I just die, I’d died in the most excruciating way possible. Flames had scorched layer after layer of my flesh, searing the dermis and destroying my nerve endings with bursts of overwhelming, full-body pain. My screams no longer registered after the fire had eaten my inner ears. From there, I was a man-made barbecue. I imagined my muscles wafted a beef-like scent, making me twistedly glad I couldn’t smell or salivate at my own spit-roasted self. Like that, I died.

A horrifying, disgusting death.

“Shit, that fucking bastard.” I glared at the scraps of paper glued all over the walls that surrounded me. This was the Flame Emperor’s history. There were numerous interviews and articles pasted on the wall. They recorded his journey from his rookie years to becoming the World’s Rank 1.

Obviously, there were many photos of him, too. Disgust filled me. I wanted to tear them all apart. “Tsk. Even if I killed him, won’t he just return to 24 hours prior to his death?”

I couldn’t kill him even if I wanted to. That was a big problem. ‘Truthfully, isn’t that an invincible cheat?’

Not only was our skill difference like comparing the sun to a small firefly, but the Flame Emperor was also the World’s Rank 1. I was not even ranked. While the Tower acknowledged me for having the greatest envy… strong envy did not mean I had talent.

Even if a miracle or a fluke happened, it was difficult for me to kill the Flame Emperor. ‘And even if I manage to kill him, there is a bigger problem to deal with.’

What would happen if I killed the Flame Emperor?

He would simply return to 24 hours before his death and that would be the end of me. The Flame Emperor would use everything at his disposal to kill me. When he realizes he can’t kill me, he would just confine me for eternity. Perhaps he would make an underground jail to imprison me.

With the Flame Emperor’s physical strength and skills, it would be an easy task for him to subdue me. And then, I would live the rest of my life confined in a prison cell.

Kim Gongja’s Bad Ending #2: Flashy Imprisonment Denouement.

“Fuck…” Killing him was a problem. Dying to him was also a problem. How was I going to act out my revenge on this psychopath?

‘What should I do? How can I beat the Rank 1?’

***

A day passed by.

I’d spent 24 hours shut inside my apartment, exploring my possibilities. I’d expended all of my energy and thought into my plan for revenge, but I couldn’t come up with a single, worthy thread that I could grasp. Just one thread from the Flame Emperor’s tapestry would be enough for me to unravel him and his entire life. But nothing came to mind.

I stared at the newspaper and articles glued on the wall, still brainstorming. I would not give up.

Every bit of information pertaining to the Flame Emperor was right there. Perhaps examining it would give me some sort of hint.

『The Flame Emperor single-handedly subjugates the 39th floor!』
『The Flame Emperor solo clears the 38th floor! Another legendary feat!』
『Hunter Yoo Sooha crowned as the World’s Rank 1. The first Korean to achieve it!』



『Disappearance of the Sword Saint & the empty Rank 1. Who will take the throne?  Expert foreigners believe “Yoo Sooha from Korea is the best candidate.”』
『The impregnable 10th floor cleared! Who is the mysterious hero?』
『22 days since the Sword Saint’s disappearance. Will the Hunter Association face its worst crisis?』

At that moment—

“Huh?”

A shocking discovery.

“Wait a minute—Look at this!” I mumbled to myself while touching a single scrap of newspaper. It was an interview I found online. I’d printed out the original article and put it up on the wall:

Q: Yoo Sooha-nim, when did you experience your first awakening? 
YOO SOOHA:
 During summer when I was 21. So it’s been 11 years.

Q: You must have good memory to be able to accurately remember even the season.
YSH:
 I don’t think my memory is particularly good. It just happens to be the case that I awakened on my birthday, 11 years ago on June 7th.

Sponsored Content

Remove Ads?


Q: So you awakened on your birthday. Did something happen that day?
YSH:
 I was on the 1st floor of the Tower. I can’t tell you anything else. It’s my privacy.

When you looked at it, it was just a normal interview.

But for me—that was the important hint I was looking for. “Wow, really?” I stared at it, shocked. “Wait a minute. This might work!”

Shit. I did it. I’d found a way.

A strategy to kill the World’s Rank 1 Hunter.

It was definitely not an easy task and others would ridicule me for being crazy. But at the same time, it was the only method of killing the Flame Emperor. It was something even someone like me, an F-Class Hunter, could accomplish.

I fully realized. ‘I can really take my revenge!’

At that moment, loud yells floated in from outside.

“It’s a fire!” someone yelled.

To see what was going on, I opened the window. On the other side of the town, red smoke billowed into the sky. Residents screamed and rushed to the streets.

“Oh, no! What should we do?” someone panicked.

“Instead of just standing here, let us try to extinguish the fire!” another person ordered.

“Alright!” the panicked person said.

Many residents swarmed the place and started helping douse the fire.

We, Hunters, lived somewhere different from the outside world. To become Hunters, we’d all stepped into the Tower, and a city was made within the 1st floor of the Tower.

There were many names for this city. Some called it Babylon and others called it Naraka. While there were Hunters who just simply called it the 1st floor city, there were others who gave it an old-fashioned name like City of Ascension (登天都市).
People from all over the world lived in the Tower so it made sense that the 1st floor city had many names.

Most people who lived in the Tower were Hunters. Whether they liked it or not, they experienced life-threatening events on a regular basis. So, unlike those from the outside world, Hunters were used to quickly reacting to danger.  

I left my room and headed down to help the residents.

‘That madman.’ Running down the stairs, I checked the time with my smartphone. It had been 24 hours since I’d returned from death. It was the exact time the Flame Emperor killed the Saintess.

Meaning—‘That Plague! He started the fire to hide all of the evidence!’

The Flame Emperor, Yoo Sooha.

He was truly a contemptible scumbag.

***

As soon as I arrived, the Vigilante Guard had already arrived on the scene. Hunters from big guilds arrived one after another. Normally, they would be growling and unsheathing their claws at each other, but instead everyone cooperated to subdue the demonic flames (火魔). [1]

“Don’t use your water abilities independently!” a guild member shouted. “That’s right. We need to time our abilities together! Just like this.”

“The Black Dragon guild will be temporarily managing this area,” another guild member yelled. “Please follow our instructions for a moment, everyone!”

Hunters who were hard to find, unless you saw their faces on the newspaper, all gathered there. Even two or three top rankers were present. While helping the residents, I stole few glances at those top rankers.

“F-For the time being,” a female alchemist said, “we have finished isolating the surrounding area. The problem is whether or not there are any survivors inside… I think we will need to send a rescue team at once.” I recognized her—She was #5 in the Rankings: A Master Alchemist (鍊金省主) and leader of a guild filled with doctors and pharmacists.

“That’s fine. This place was originally a slum. No one’s lived here for five years, so it became an off-limits area,” another female said. “It’s fortunate that a fire broke out in a place like this.” She was the Paladin, #10 in the Rankings: Leader of the Vigilante Guard, which was responsible for the city’s public order.

These two Hunters were famously known for helping others in need. Among the top rankers, they were not lone wolves who stood idly. They arrived at the scene faster than anyone else and took command.

With these two female powerhouses, it was clear something or someone was missing. ‘Normally, the Saintess would be standing in between them, but…’

She was nowhere to be found.

Which was obvious—Since she was murdered by not your typical lone wolf, but the greatest shithead loner of them all.

The only people who knew this fact was probably only the Flame Emperor and me. Not even the other top rankers knew this truth yet… No, perhaps they’ll never know the truth.

The Master Alchemist looked around. “That’s weird. Why isn’t Miss Saintess here yet?”


Sponsored Content

Remove Ads?

“I heard she had to do something tonight,” the Paladin said. “I don’t know the details. Could be a date?” She chuckled. “She’s been with the Flame Emperor lately.”

The Master Alchemist hunched her shoulders. “I dislike the man known as the Flame Emperor,” she said. “While it might be impolite of me to talk behind his back in such a place, he displeases me. I think Miss Saintess should meet a better person.”

“Your standards are too high. Just what kind of man would be better than the Rank 1? This is why you’re still single,” the Paladin lightly teased.

“I-I can find a partner whenever I want…” the Master Alchemist blushed. “I’m just not interested right now…” Her voice trailed away.

Speaking of the devil, of course he would appear.

“It’s the Flame Emperor!” someone shouted.

The people who were working to put out the fires all stopped for a moment. Even the top rankers turned their heads.

Dressed in a hoodie and sweatpants, the Flame Emperor, or rather, the Plague casually strolled toward them. The Plague seemed greatly annoyed. “Ah, fuck. Who played with fire without my permission?” he said.

This crazy psychopathic bastard.

The Paladin immediately became more professional and welcomed him. “Greetings, Flame Emperor, sir.”

“Mhm. I have arrived.” His tone was particularly kingly.

“As you can see, someone committed arson in the old slums district,” the Paladin said. “Would you please lend us a hand?” she asked politely.

But the Flame Emperor remained aloof. “If I help you, then what are you going to give me?” he asked.

“You would gain great satisfaction by generously assisting residents,” the Paladin said.

“Enough with the bullcrap. Tell me what you’ll give me.”

“Tomorrow, all media across the world will write in big bold letters: 『The Flame Emperor subdues the fire, a charitable act of goodwill』. You can improve your image while grabbing the attention of all the people around the world,” she said.

The Flame Emperor guffawed. He stuffed his hands in his pockets and smirked at her words. “Do you think I give a fuck about those trash journalists?”

He was truly a psychopath. It was clear the Flame Emperor was well on the path of insanity with no return.  

Residents were already recording the Flame Emperor with their phones. In real time, the Flame Emperor’s every word and action was being transmitted throughout the world. The Internet became heated as the two sides—the ones who sided with the Flame Emperor and the ones who criticized him—battled it out.

I wonder, what would the defenders say?

Yeah. You should fiercely protect your self-interests. Helping someone for free only makes you a pushover. It’s nice to see a hero who is this honest. [2]

I was dizzy with the contradictions. The weight of who the Flame Emperor really was pushed against me in the form of a headache. ‘No one knows.’ Dread sent chills down my spine. ‘They are all completely mistaken. He isn’t upfront—That bastard’s insane.’

Even though flames danced right in front of me, my heart ran cold. Those flames. That arson. This disaster. All of it was caused by the Flame Emperor himself. Nevertheless, he returned with a perfectly fine face and asked, “What are you going to give me?”

And so, I was finally convinced: ‘I need to get rid of him!’

A monster.

It wasn’t just for my revenge. It was for all of humanity. For the sake of the Hunters, that monster deserved to be eradicated. Monsters were simply monsters. It’s the Hunter’s mission and duty to kill them!

‘By all means… I must kill him.’

In this Tower, there lived a single monster that played with fire. Literally shot fire with its hands. A real monster. Yes. It was so. But it was inappropriate to say that it was simply there. It was quite inappropriate.

Because, that monster was my prey.

‘Even if I die.’ I stepped forward.

Each intentional step brought me closer.

I moved past the heroes who were concerned about the follow-up measures. I strolled past the ordinary people who were doing their best to control the fire. Towards the ever-rising flames, towards the fire that was as fierce as Hell, I walked closer.

“Huh? Wait a moment. Where are you going?” A guild member said.

I walked.

“Hyung-ssi! You shouldn’t get too close to the flames!” said someone else.

I strode toward my goal.


Sponsored Content

Remove Ads?

“Oh no! That person must be crazy!” a female voice said.

“Someone please, stop him!” a male voice said.

“Fuck, what’s that crazy bastard doing!?” another male voice resounded.

And then I burst forward.

Behind me, people were making a fuss. There were those who jumped up and down. Others who stopped working and yelled at me. I bypassed them all. Ignoring them, I simply raced toward my goal.

It was hot. No different than Hell. With a roar, the blaze of fire surrounded me in one fell swoop. The flames licked me with red tongues.

It hurt like crazy.With each step, my flesh melted. My eyes burned to crisps within its sockets. But still… ‘It’s better than dying to the Flame Emperor!’

This was the only method of killing the Flame Emperor with absolute certainty.

How long had I been running? It felt like I ran for quite some time, but it also felt like only a minute. The smoke clogged up what was left of my throat. I wheezed and coughed. And then I stopped coughing. I stopped all together, and then I heard a voice.

That’s right.

| You’ll be returning 24 hours prior.

That was my second death.

***

When people saw me jump into the fire, they made a huge commotion saying I was crazy.

Of course, I wasn’t crazy.

It was the complete opposite. I had an awfully cold understanding of the current situation. “…I’m back,” I said out loud. My voice sounded perfectly fine and didn’t hold any of the raspy traces I had, what felt like, mere moments ago. Here I was.

Back to my Hell. My 125 square-foot, single room apartment. The walls were plastered with interview articles, and a live broadcast streamed on the TV. That was already the third time that I’d heard this live broadcast.

Breaking news! The Black Dragon Guild attempts to conquer the 40th floor of the Tower…

Once again, I’d returned to yesterday.

‘Good. The skill is working properly.’ Unlike the last time, I didn’t pay any attention to the television. There was no need. The skill that allowed me to go back to 24 hours prior worked. All I had to do was make sure this was certain. With this, I could kill the Flame Emperor.

| You are currently an F-Class Hunter.
| Due to your low Class, you will not be penalized.

“As expected,” I mumbled to myself. ‘Returner’s Clockwork Watch… it said that the penalty will increase with the Hunter’s Class, right?’ On the contrary, it meant that no penalty was given to Hunters with the lowest Class. If you’re an F-Class like me, you didn’t even get a penalty.

‘This is my chance.’  While I was still an F-Class, this was the very moment. The one and only golden opportunity to hunt the Flame Emperor.

‘My last chance.’

I took the knife out of my backpack.
It was an old knife. A knife that I’d been keeping ever since I started working as a Hunter. While it was not usable for killing monsters… it was sufficient enough to kill a person.

‘How can I kill the Flame Emperor?’

I’d thought about it. ‘Should I cooperate with the Saintess before she dies? Should I report to the Black Dragon Guild about my skill and devise a plan to imprison the Flame Emperor forever? Or should I try to record the moment the Saintess dies?’

Any method was fine. But they were just simply fine. It didn’t ensure the Flame Emperor would certainly die.

‘I don’t have the qualifications to gain the Saintess’ trust.’
I lacked the skills.

‘I don’t have the authority to move an entire guild into action.’
I lacked the strength.

‘I don’t think I can successfully record the Flame Emperor killing the Saintess.’
I lacked the confidence.

‘But…’
Even so, I had something.

‘If I die, I’ll return to 24 hours prior.’

A skill.
The Returner’s Clockwork Watch that was copied from the Flame Emperor.

‘Yeah. I have a skill.’

My heart pounded in my ears, my breathing rough.

‘Don’t worry Kim Gongja, you can do this!’

I tried to gulp, but my mouth was dry. Taking a deep breath, I looked at the wall one last time. A magazine interview with the Flame Emperor was affixed there, untouched.

Q: Yoo Sooha-nim, when did you experience your first awakening?
YOO SOOHA:
 During summer when I was 21. So it’s been 11 years.

Q: You must have good memory to be able to accurately remember even the season.
YSH:
 I don’t think my memory is particularly good. It just happens to be the case that I awakened on my birthday, 11 years ago on June 7th.

’11 years ago.’

11 years ago, on June 7th. It was still summer.

If you counted the days backward… ‘It’s 4,050 days.’

That’s right.

‘I just need to die 4,050 times.’

This was the only method of killing the Flame Emperor with absolute certainty.

‘Yoo Sooha—If you are a monster that can’t die—’

I raised the knife.

‘I’ll kill you before you become that monster!’

And then, I stabbed my neck.

To return back in time.

Back 11 years in the past to June 7th. Back before the Flame Emperor awakened his first skill. Back before he could return 24 hours before his death, to those summer days.

Back to the time the Flame Emperor could still die!

A groan escaped my gritted teeth.

The pain seared me, hot and cutting. My heart thumped hard and deep, about to burst.  I sliced through my nerve endings as they screeched at me to stop. Until, like a light, my sight flickered off. And like a thread, my sense of touch was cut off.

But then, I still heard a voice.

| You have died.
| You’ll be returning 24 hours prior.

I returned to the day before.

The day before, I was lying in bed. The TV was off. However, the walls remained unchanged, plastered with scraps of newspapers. One day was not sufficient to erase the Flame Emperor’s history, or rather, that psychopath’s history.

I glared at Yoo Sooha’s photo.

‘It doesn’t matter.’ If a day was not enough, then a week. If a week was lacking, then a month. If a month was not sufficient, then a year. If one year was inadequate, then…

“Now.” I pulled out my dagger once again. “I just need to die 4,049 times more.”

And I stabbed myself to death.

[T/N]
[1] Demonic flames [화마(火魔)] is a special type of fire that cannot be easily extinguished. It will be mentioned again in the future chapters.
[2] “This honest” intentionally sounds like “dishonest.”

Note : Please download the sponsor's game to support us!



COMMENTS