Chapter 1. Prologue
In the beginning, I was utterly confused.
I thought my life would never change. Days like now where the future is vague and the indiscernible would continue.
Until that day.
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My life has changed drastically.
* * *
Do-joon was an awakener.
But, he wasn’t a hunter.
In the eyes of the general public, awakeners and hunters were the same. However, once you look into the industry, it’s not like that at all. Not every awakener was exactly like hunters.
There were many reasons for this.
He didn’t like to fight. Or it’s just that he preferred the research side more.
In addition, his ability itself was not suitable for combat.
– Kim Do-joon
– Destruction Lv1, Agility Lv1, Vitality Lv1, Magic Lv1, Sense Lv1
– Potion Production
That was the case with Do-joon.
Potion production, as the name suggests, is not for combat. So he couldn’t become a hunter.
But that was fine.
There wasn’t really any charm in becoming a Hunter, and it was enough for the potion maker to make the ends meet.
He needed more money.
Potion is a very high cost product. Of course, the Potion material is a resource that can only be obtained by taking risks in the dungeon.
So he began entering the dungeon, as both the producer and collector.
* * *
Do-joon opened his eyes to the sunlight pouring down his face. He woke up with blank eyes while scratching his head.
It’s already morning.
It was time to open the store.
As soon as he came out of the room while yawning, he saw a display table full of various miscellaneous items.
<District 13 General Store>
This small humble shop was his home and his workplace.
He began cleaning, dusting off the shelves, sweeping and wiping the floor. He placed objects into empty shelves and organized the messy stuff.
Then a shower in the bathroom after everything was done.
Only after drying his hair and changing into tidy clothes, he changed the shop sign from ‘closed’ to ‘open’.
“As usual, there are no customers……”
The tedious wait continued for some time.
His store wasn’t exactly flattering, and he didn’t have many customers.
His main source of income was to supply potions to his frequent regulars and guilds once a week.
Still, he earned as much as he could. Potions are a must-have item, and it was not one bit cheap at all.
Besides, he didn’t sell just by processing. He also went into the dungeon himself and collected the ingredients for the potion, so his income was quite good, as opposed to the idle store.
However, thanks to the fact that most of the money went to the medical expenses, he ate and slept in a side room attached to the store.
The bell on the door rang.
Do-joon stood up from his seat to greet.
“Ji-ah, you’re here again today.”
She was an employee of the Awakened Association, which welcomed Do-joon when he first awakened, and has been his handler for the past six years.
She had shoulder-length hair and a distinctive mole under her eye, giving her an elegant impression. She seemed like a capable career woman.
In addition, Do-joon was the first awakened person she was in charge of. For that reason, she stopped by the shop from time to time even though she wasn’t a hunter.
“You look free today.”
“I know, right, haha…….”
Do-joon made two cups of coffee with a bitter smile.
One of them was for Lee Ji-ah.
“Thank you for the drink.”
For a moment, they savored the taste of coffee without saying a word.
There was silence.
Do-joon was not a talkative person, and Lee Ji-ah was the type who only talked about necessary things. There was almost no personal talk.
But it wasn’t awkward. Because both of them could stand silence and had known each other for six years.
‘I think I drank half a cup.’
Do-joon asked Lee Ji-ah.
“You’re here today for the association, right?”
“Yes, there’s a D-class gate that’s almost complete, and I’m here to tell you that.”
Do-joon took notes and listened to her explanation.
The dungeon was created in a small park in Seorim-dong. There were 13 hunters in total, up to 11 D and E level hunters, including two C level hunters.
And the latecomers, as always, got free participation.
The raid team would catch all the monsters until just before the boss, the latecomers would enter the dungeon behind them, retrieve resources as much as possible for a set time, and then weave their way through the dungeon until they get to the final boss and kill it off as they closed the dungeon.
That was the standard procedure for the dungeon raids.
“You could have told me this over the phone as well…….”
“I stopped by on my way to work. Never mind.”
Lee Ji-ah talked bluntly and put the paper cup down. And left the store after saying that she had a good drink.
“See you tomorrow.”
As there were no customers, he came out of the store to see her off. Looking at her leaving, Do-joon thought.
“The first attack will be over by tomorrow morning?”
Then, latecomers were usually allowed to enter tomorrow, no later than the day after tomorrow. It was necessary to prepare immediately.
Do-joon, who was about to enter the store thinking about his preparations, suddenly stared at something dark in the far distance.
It was a tree.
Huge and magnificent like the tree that devoured the Little Prince’s star, but only misty-looking.
World’s greatest tree, Yggdrasil.
An unknown miracle that scattered monsters on Earth, and at the same time created superhumans called Awakeners.
It appeared even before Do-joon was born.
【Planet V2 – FRD48295】
【Intelligent life’s population and adaptability exceeded standards. Judging that enough nutrients have been collected.】
【The seed of the World Tree is germinating.】
Strange text reflected in the eyes of people all over the world.
That day, huge tree roots rose from all over the land and monsters popped out of them. The monsters changed the whole world dramatically.
That wasn’t the only thing that changed.
Almost all roots emitted monsters, but sometimes there were roots that did not. Roots that have grown unusually straight, unlike other twisted and hideous roots.
At the end, red buds were formed, and flowers bloomed once a year.
And every time.
【Spores are sprayed.】
Sparkling particles like a cluster of stars slowly spread out.
The particles spread and attached themselves to people as if they had a will of their own.
It was no use hiding. It was a fine particle that could not be stopped by walls or blankets.
The person with that particle was the awakener in this new world.
It was six years ago that spores stuck to nape of Do-joon’s neck. The intense memories of that time still lingered vividly.
It felt like something prickly came up from the back and penetrated the whole body. From head to toe, a terrible feeling of something imprinted in the body, like a plant’s fine roots.
【Name: Kim Do-joon】
【Mana’s aptitude: Upper Critical】
【All processes have been completed.】
This was when he began to live the life of a potion maker.
He quit his job and started his business with severance pay. This was because he couldn’t make up for the monthly hospital expenses just by his salary.
At first, Do-joon was doing business at the entrance of the dungeon with only one stand without a store.
Six years later, he now has set up a small but plausible store.
His current income was not comparable to when he was in the company. There was just a slight difference in the shift.
This must be why people were so eager to be awakeners.
There were many books popular among young people these days, such as “How to be an awakener in 10 years!” or “The Spore of World Tree, Let’s not wait and follow!”
The problem was that none of them had been proven credible, but…….
‘What does it have to do with me?’
Well, it has nothing to do with him, who’s already awakened. Do-joon stretched out and shook off his miscellaneous thoughts.
‘Yeah, I’ll just do some business in the morning and get ready for the dungeon today.’
And he started to prepare for tomorrow.
* * *
“Is Mr. Kim here?”
“Good afternoon, Mr. Jang.”
The next day, in front of Seorim-dong Park. Do-joon sat in a place where collectors like him were waiting.
President Jang, who usually met with him, greeted him.
“How are you today? Can you dig it up?”
“Yeah, no problem.”
“Wow, I love youth.”
Do-joon smiled blurrily.
He was 35 years old. He was already old enough to be called an uncle, but he was among the younger ones here.
Usually, young awakeners were busy attending academies to become hunters somehow. Those who ended up becoming collectors were the ones who gave up on becoming a hunter.
In the eyes of young people, the job was not glamorous and the income was unstable.
Unlike the hunters, they didn’t have significant government support, and if they’d gone to the trouble of joining a latecomer team and they were in a dungeon with no suitable resources, they would end up striking out that day.
“Do-joon is here.”
“Oh, Ji-ah, hello. Thank you for yesterday.”
“No, I enjoyed my coffee.”
Lee Ji-ah rather bowed her head to Do-joon, who thanked her.
When he saw Do-joon, President Jang stepped in from the side.
“What, what? What happened to you two yesterday?”
President Jang pouted his lips when Lee Ji-ah answered firmly as if making fun of him. Then he looked at Do-joon and shook his head.
It was him who usually complained that it’s difficult to treat a lady.
Smiling at the appearance of the two, Do-joon looked at the entrance of the dungeon.
The entrance to the dungeon was not in the form of a portal common in games and movies.
It was the root of the giant tree.
Through that root, the awakeners entered the dungeon.
Looking for a moment, people poured out from the entrance to the dungeon. They were hunters attacking the dungeon.
They were stained with blood and dirt. But their expression was bright. There were not many victims or injured ones.
“Wait a minute.”
Lee Ji-ah asked Do-joon to wait and approached them. She talked about something and came back.
Clap clap clap.
“The first attack is over. Latecomers, please get ready.”
“What is the deadline?”
A man raised his hand and asked a question.
“You have until dawn today.
The man was surprised. Usually, there were 3 days, but today’s dawn would be less than a day.
Likewise, others had a mixed look of surprise and dissatisfaction.
“This dungeon has a rather unstable mana wavelength. That’s why I want to close it up as soon as possible.”
The dungeon could be closed by force by finishing off the boss, but it would close naturally if left alone.
Unstable mana wavelength meant the time until it closed naturally was short.
So in the case of unstable dungeons, there was less time allocated to collectors.
“Oh, I don’t know if it’s gonna come out with a basket only.”
“Oh, my God. Guys like us have to follow our superiors.”
“Don’t be so mean. You have work to do.”
Do-joon stood silently among the roaring gatherers.
He didn’t say anything, but he bit his lip.
‘I’m gonna make some pocket money.’
Earnings weren’t bad, but he always needed money. Even if he didn’t, he would receive one or two reminder calls from the Department of Raw Affairs…
But like the words, the job was somewhere in there. If he was lucky, he would be able to roughly put out the fire in a hurry.
“Let’s go, then!”
With President Jang’s roaring remarks, the latecomers entered the dungeon. With their hands to the roots, they began to disappear one by one.
Do-joon was the last one to enter.
At that moment.
Something strange. He felt an unusual throbbing sensation.
“What is it?”
He didn’t know. He had no clue, but there was little sense of incompatibility.
But Do-joon just dismissed it off as a feeling.
And later that evening.
【Found a treasure dungeon.】
Only Do-joon didn’t get out of the dungeon.