Chapter 1. Prologue
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<Is the culprit of the giant ‘crop circle’ that appeared. An alien from Mars?>
― A huge mysterious black circle with a radius of several kilometers appeared in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi-do, making headlines. Nearby residents expressed their concerns about this unidentified black circle that appeared overnight, and some say…….
<Mysterious, Pitch-Black Circles. Appearing all over the world simultaneously… … >
<Mystery Circle of Hwaseong City appears……. Material damage is “0”.>
Do-joon scrolled down his cell phone with a frown. Articles about Hwaseong City were pouring out, calling it breaking news on TV as well as real-time searches on the Green Window.
(T/N: Green Window, referring to Naver, a Korean web portal, without mentioning Naver itself because that website’s name color is green.)
As he scrolled down, he saw hundreds of comments appearing.
└ Maybe someone might be playing with their skills. That’s much more convincing than aliens.
└ It’s not just Korea where it appeared. If someone is playing with their skills, then how can they appear all over the world at the same time?
└ Anyway, aliens would have crossed their line, hahaha. I think it would be more convincing to say that it is a terrorist group.
└ Hwaseong,,, I am a resident,,,, even in empty words,,,, don’t say such a thing,,,,,
‘Rather than terrorism or aliens…… Could it have something to do with the World Tree?’
After reading the comments, a thought came naturally to him.
In this day and age, it is correct to first suspect and view phenomena that transcend cognition.
Not surprisingly, there were also comments that thought similarly to Do-joon.
└ Maybe it’s a dungeon?
└ There’s no roots though.
└ Well, it could be a new type of dungeon?
But no one spoke with clear confidence. Since the black earth only looked black.
There was no such thing as being moved to another place like a dungeon.
A city in the lower part of Seoul.
It was a place that could not be said to be far, but it was still quite a distance from where he lived. But that didn’t mean he could relax.
With a little vigilance, Do-joon put his phone in his pocket.
“Dad! I’m all dressed up!”
At that time, So-eun opened the door and rushed in. Dressed up in outdoor clothes with the help of Siewellin.
It was a jumper with an X-Kachu hat that she used to wear a lot whenever she went out for a walk at the hospital.
[T/N: It’s PiKachu (ง •_•)ง]
Do-joon fixed his daughter’s dress. In fact, Siewellin dressed her perfectly, so there was no place to change anything.
“Okay. Shall we go?”
Today’s schedule was to head to the academy in Seoul. To be exact, the kindergarten department there.
“Then, please take care of the store.”
「”Bye. Bring Melon shaved ice when you come back~”」
Siewellin asked him to buy shaved ice any time he had to go out these days. Thanks to that, the mileage of the shaved ice shop near his house was accumulating day by day.
“Lala la la la la la la la~”
So-eun hummed a song which made sure that she was in a good mood. Do-joon didn’t know if he heard it on a children’s program on TV.
“Come on, wear your seat belt well.”
He placed the child in the rear car seat and fastened her seat belt. So-eun was flapping her legs all the time and clearly enjoying it.
In fact, she was a child who didn’t really hate much. Whatever he did, would be much more enjoyable than lying still in a hospital.
‘Still, you look happier today.’
Was she looking forward to meeting children of her age? Well, today, he planned to consult and check the facilities, but…….
After 30 minutes of departure, he was able to pass through the main gate of the excessively large academy.
Numerous buildings on a larger site than any decent university. It was this big, mainly because this academy integrated not only kindergarten but also elementary, middle, and high schools.
‘Until middle school, it would be almost the same as a regular school?’
That’s what he found out.
Except for teaching Awakened children to control their abilities, the subjects are the same as a regular school.
However, it seems that from the high school department onwards, combat education is also provided only for those who are aspiring. To raise a child who will be a hunter in the future from an early age.
Do-joon parked his car outside of the kindergarten area, following the map at the entrance.
‘Okay, guys. What is this~?’
Friendly voices came from the building. It was quite small compared to other buildings.
Awakening itself was not common in the first place, and awakening at the age of entering kindergarten was more rare, so there was no reason for the building to be big.
“Are we going here?”
So-eun held Do-joon’s hand tightly. She suddenly seemed from the voices of other children.
“Let’s meet your teacher first.”
Do-joon smiled and spoke at that.
Holding So-eun’s hand, they arrived at the director’s office in the building.
When he knocked on the door, he heard a voice telling them to come in from inside.
“Oh, you called me yesterday?”
When they opened the door and entered, it was an old director who encountered the two.
“Yes, my name is Kim Do-joon. This is Kim So-eun.”
So-eun greeted in a slightly shaky tone. Seeing this, the director smiled kindly.
“Aww, you’re too cute. Come on, come on, don’t stand there, sit here. Your father, too.”
Do-joon sat on a sofa with So-eun, the director himself took on the conversation.
“I’m Park Shin-hye, the director of this place. You said your child is awakened, right?”
“That’s right. I came because they accepted her as an Awakened and it was close to my house.”
“You are welcome here. Then can I explain it to you for a moment?”
The director, as if accustomed to it, explained about the kindergarten. How many children were attending, what kind of education was provided, how they manage the safety of children, and etc.
Even the route of the shuttle bus, he heard everything he needed.
“You’re saying it’s going to stop at a nearby apartment complex, right?”
“Yes. It’s a little annoying, but I think you’ll have to come out till there.”
“There’s no problem with that.”
After hearing the rough explanation, Do-joon asked a question.
His questions were mainly about the children attending, their parents, and the teachers who taught them.
At that time.
‘Director, I have something to tell you.’
“Ah, just in time.”
“Is she a teacher here?”
“Yes, I’ll introduce her to you. Come in, Mrs. Kwon.”
It was a freckled woman in her late 20s who came in after the door opened. She was wearing a cute apron that matched the kindergarten in a modest outfit.
“Huh? Did you have guests?”
“Yes, these people came to consult with us.”
Then the teacher brightened her eyes and bowed her head.
“I’m Kwon Soo-young.”
“I’m Kim Do-joon. Nice to meet you.”
After a short greeting with Do-joon, she bent her knees and made eye contact with So-eun.
“Hi~ What’s your name?”
“I’m Kim So-eun.”
“Nice to meet you, So-eun. This teacher is called Soo-young.”
So-eun nodded and buried her face in Do-joon’s arm. A similar reaction to when she first met Siewellin.
It seems that she is not used to meeting new people for the first time yet.
“I’m sorry. She’s just very shy.”
“What’s there to be sorry about? That’s how kids are.”
Do-joon sighed in relief at her sharp response. A very intimate and innocent impression.
“By the way, Mrs. Kwon used to work as a hunter.”
Do-joon briefly showed interest in the director’s words.
“Oh, Director, why are you talking about the past?”
“Who cares. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.”
“It’s embarrassing. I barely managed to get to D-class and quit.”
Hunter is a job, highly admired, but it was also a job that few could endure until the very end.
It was never easy to make a living by killing monsters.
“I just quit because I thought it didn’t suit me. I studied again and got a job here.”
“I see. That’s amazing.”
“What do you mean amazing? People around me said that I kicked the money cushion.”
“My dad is a hunter, too!”
Then So-eun intervened next to him. She must have been itching to talk about something else alone.
Kwon Soo-young saw Do-joon with fresh eyes. It was a kindergarten attended by awakened children, but just because the child was awakened didn’t mean that parents were also awakened.
Do-joon stroked So-eun’s head and talked.
“I’m still a newcomer. My grade is now at E-level.”
“Oh, then I’m your senior.”
“That’s going to happen.”
Kwon Soo-young jokingly talking. Do-joon smiled quietly, too.
“What do you think? Have you made a decision?”
The director who asks Do-joon. Do-joon looked at So-eun and asked.
“What do you think, Soeun? Do you want to go around? The teacher here will show you.”
So-eun raised her head and looked at Kwon Soo-young. When their eyes met, she waved both hands and smiled.
Seeing this, So-eun nodded her head slightly.
“That’s a relief. They say the child likes it.”
“Thank you, So-eun~ Do you want me to take care of you in the future?”
Kwon Soo-young held So-eun’s hand and shook it gently.
That day, Do-joon and So-eun spent time buying necessary items after being guided about kindergarten facilities.
And from the next day forth, So-eun went to the academy’s kindergarten.
* * *
Two weeks have passed since So-eun went to kindergarten.
Do-joon was worried at first and sent a lot of messages to Kwon Soo-young and even went to secretly observe.
But, he was relieved that she seemed to get along much better than he thought. Especially, since there was already a kid who became friends with her.
‘It’s okay if you have at least one friend.’
It doesn’t have to be a lot. It would be a little sad if there was no one, but if there was at least one.
As he went to see So-eun every day, he naturally did not enter the dungeon. The labyrinth was also cut in units of one or two days, so he would visit it for a short time.
All the remaining time was spent on training in the mountains afar.
“Huh… … Huh… … .”
― Now you can tear 10 strands. Congratulations.
Do-joon spread on the soil due to mana depletion. Until this happened, it was his daily routine to train, come down, wash up, and fall asleep.
<And the next day.>
Do-joon, who secretly saw So-eun as usual, had an appointment after a long time.
“Brother! Here you are!”
Gamjatang restaurant in a quiet alley a little far from downtown. It was the restaurant where Hwang Hyun-woo insisted on going out to eat once because it was so delicious.
Whether it was really a good restaurant, even though it was a little after lunch, it was already full of customers inside.
“Auntie! Two gamjatang and soju!”
“Oh, my. What kind of alcohol is it in the middle of the day?”
“Hey, aren’t you trying to sell? Instead, turn on the TV.”
Customers who ate loudly, perhaps regulars. When the news came out of the TV turned on by the store owner, it became louder inside the store.
Do-joon and Hwang Hyun-woo also sat down after ordering gamjatang as well.
“I brought all the equipment you mentioned. But it’s not a lot.”
“Yes. As you know, dungeons are decreasing these days.”
Do-joon didn’t know well because he didn’t go to the dungeon for other reasons, but he still saw a lot of such stories on TV and on the Internet.
“That’s why freelancers like us ran out of work. Because guilds try to go on their own.”
“I see. I’ve been busy with other things lately, so I haven’t gone to the dungeon at all.”
“Is that so? The timing was just right. Other hunters without a guild are complaining that they have no work, now.”
Therefore, the amount of equipment manufactured is small. Because Hwang Hyun-woo was a craftsman who made almost all of the materials himself.
“So that’s the thing, brother.”
Hwang Hyun-woo spoke in a soft voice.
“I know someone who has reserved a place for a party. What do you think? Shall we go together?”
“Of course! I think I’ll feel reassured if I go with you.”
Do-joon thought for a while on Hwang Hyun-woo’s proposal. Since he rested for two weeks, it should be time to clear at least one dungeon.
‘I got the Adamantine Form and the magic power became ten strands, so I want to test it.’
He had been testing it in the Orc Labyrinth, but it’s still different from testing it in an actual dungeon.
Because the feeling of doing it alone and doing it with others is completely different.
[This is in front of Mysterious Crop Circle in Hwaseong City. As you can see, the ground is painted completely black.]
Then, suddenly, the TV screen hanging on the opposite wall caught his eye.
[It’s already been 2 weeks, but nothing has been revealed. The government keeps repeating that it is under investigation, and not only Korea but also the United States…….]
“Oh, it’s still noisy. It’s been two weeks.”
“Isn’t it something like that? Like a guardian deity that suppresses the occurrence of dungeons?”
“That’s right. The dungeon occurrence rate started to decline gradually around the time that happened.”
“How can there be such a black guardian deity?”
“It is a prejudice to think that black is bad these days, bro.”
Hwang Hyun-woo, who talks nicely and laughs. Do-joon also smiled, saying it was nonsense.
At that time.
[Huh? What is this?]
The reporter spoke as if he found something strange. And
【Planet V2 – FRD48295】
【The growth of the World Tree has been confirmed.】
【The “root” stage has been passed, now entering the “stem” stage.】
With the sound of someone dropping a spoon, a reporter’s scream rang out.
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