[You have successfully wiped out the Dokgakgwi village!]

[A ‘Dokgakgwi’s Skull’ has been acquired as a reward.]

[A ‘Dokgakgwi’s Heart’ has been acquired as a reward.]

[You have swallowed a ‘Laughing Flower’!]

Search tinyurl.com/2p9emv8w for the original.

[You have successfully wiped out the Jeokyeomgwi[1] village!]

[You have located a group of ‘Berserk Flowers’!]

[You have successfully wiped out a group of Eoduksini![2]]

[Achievement unlocked!]

“Butcherer of Mountains and Forests.”

Reward: Strength +5.
Stamina +3.

Although it seemed impossible to navigate the ‘Black Blood Mountain Range,’ there was one method to do so, which was to find a river’s source by going against the current.

‘I ’ll have to find the Gwangcheon Pond, because the Black Blood Mountain Range’s ecosystem is similar to that of the Seocheon Flower Garden,’ Chang-Sun concluded.
The first place that had come to mind when he first heard about the Black Blood Mountain Range’s characteristics was the Seocheon Flower Garden.

The Saha World and the Afterlife.
Heaven and the Underworld.
Although the realms were like two sides of a coin, there were countless planes bridging the gaps between them.
Purgatory, Limbo, the Astral Plane… Among those planes, the Seocheon Flower Garden was the one closest to the Underworld.

In his time as ‘Divine Twilight’, Chang-Sun had been able to visit the garden for a very short time.
It was surrounded by three lakes; the white one came up to his knees, the yellow one came up to his chest, and the red one came up to his neck.
In the garden, many strange, sinister flowers grew, ones that could be found nowhere else.

Although the flowers had strange names such as the ‘Crying Flower’, ‘Laughing Flower’, and ‘Destruction Flower’, they actually had very special effects.
Due to their characteristics, if someone ate them without the permission of the garden’s keeper, the ‘Flower Overseer’, they would be afflicted with a curse that corresponded to the flower’s name for the rest of their life.

The Crying Flower would make its eater cry their eyes out.
The Laughing Flower would make them laugh until their intestines twisted together.
The Berserk Flower would drive them completely mad with aggression, making them fight until they died.
Those characteristics meant it was not so easy to take the garden for granted.

That was precisely the way in which the Black Blood Mountain Range’s ecosystem was similar to that of the Seocheon Flower Garden.
Of course, the flowers in the Dungeon did not quite have the same effects as the real ones in the Seocheon Flower Garden, but they were still very powerful.
As such, the supervisor and the instructors had warned the trainees before the start of the probationary training to not eat wild grass and weeds until they mastered the Three Basic Skills.

‘Sal Tree was incredibly fastidious and nitpicked about everything,’ Chang-Sun thought as he continued moving, recalling the Seocheon Flower Garden’s Flower Overseer.
who was far more uptight than his appearance suggested..

[You are forging a path along the large red river!]

Based on his memory of the Seocheon Garden, Chang-Sun remembered that flowers such as the Crying Flower and the Laughing Flower were watered by the ‘Gwangcheon Pond’.
In other words, the Dungeon’s ecosystem had to have a water source that played the same role as the Gwangcheon Pond.
Thus, he kept traveling upstream from the riverbank he had found beside the Dokgakgwi village’s Crying Flower Garden.

‘Rivers are usually wider downstream, but in this Dungeon, it’s the other way around,’ Chang-Sun thought.

As he traveled along the riverbank, the forest became denser, and the monsters he encountered became tougher and more numerous.
Even the plants nearby began looking different.

Within the Dungeon, locust tree deities[3] lay silently in wait for humans to walk into their wide, Venus flytrap-like mouths; meanwhile, soldiers from the Bamboo Leaf Army[4] attacked all those who entered with sharply barbed vines.

[The Celestial ‘A Good Season to Hunt’ yawns, asking how much longer you have to walk.]

[The Celestial ‘Twilight-Piercing Owl’ watches your new adventure with interest.]

Just as the deities were starting to feel bored, Chang-Sun reached a certain mountain peak with great difficulty.
The view of the Dungeon from atop the mountain was wide and clear, revealing many new regions on the other side.

‘There it is,’ Chang-Sun realized.

He saw a valley, surrounded by cliffs even taller than the mountain he had struggled to climb.
Completely unlike the nearby mountains that were covered in red trees and grass, it was filled with black basalt rocks.
The ground there was so dry and cracked, it was as if it had been ravaged by countless forest fires that somehow affected only the valley.
Piles of monster corpses lay strewn all across it.
It was the very place Chang-Sun had tried so desperately to find.

‘That is the Jigwi’s nest,’ Chang-Sun thought in excitement.

“What is that Jigwi monster you told me about?” Chang-Sun asked.

“Well, how should I describe it? Hmm… It’s somewhat unique.
It doesn’t have enough of a physical body to be called a beast, but it has too much of one to be called a spirit,” Second Elder replied, stroking his chin.

“Are you saying it’s not a living being?” Chang-Sun asked.

“Something like that.
It’s a cluster of countless spirits, to be exact,” Second Elder explained.

The Jigwi Second Elder had told Chang-Sun about was a bizarre bird as large as a mountain.
Its body was made up of blazing fire, and within it, clusters of hundreds of thousands of spirits formed its bones and muscles.

‘That’s why its attributes are fire and death.
I like it,’ Chang-Sun thought in satisfaction; those were the very attributes he was trying to cultivate.

“Does it have something like a neidan?” Chang-Sun asked, trying to find out more information about the monster.

“Why would a cluster of spirits have such a thing? Well, I suppose it has something similar,” Second Elder said with a shrug.

“What does it have?” Chang-Sun asked.

“An eye,” Second Elder said with a grin.

‘It has a special right eye,’ Chang-Sun recalled.

The Jigwi’s right eye was a jewel made out of hundreds of thousands of spirits’ deep-seated grudges, compressed by intense heat.
Such a Jewel Eye could be used to significantly transform the properties of the [Fire of the Eight Trigrams Brazier.]

“It seems to be away from its nest right now, so shall I set some traps?” Chang-Sun muttered to himself as he leaped down to the foot of the mountain, the Nameless Spear in hand.

* * *

Ten days had passed since Chang-Sun left the Safe Zone.

“This is the place, right?”

“Use your eyes! Who else could leave such traces? Stop talking nonsense.”

“Well, I guess you’re right.”

The probationary trainees of the White Tiger Clan’s 26th training exercise were completely different from any previous group, seemingly motivated by Chang-Sun’s overwhelmingly high score.

First, Kim Hyeong-Jun perfectly demonstrated the Three Basic Skills on the fifth day, followed closely by Baek Gyeo-Ul and Lim Joo-Han on the sixth.
Although they failed to demonstrate the Tiger Form the way Chang-Sun had, their achievements still came close.

Although the three Players were overshadowed by Chang-Sun, they were still so talented that if they had participated in the previous training exercise, they would have effortlessly earned top ranks.
Thus, the instructors had already been monitoring the three.
Some people would call the result natural, while others would consider it surprising.

The real surprise, however, was that there were simply too many people who had exited the Safe Zone early after mastering the Three Basic Skills.
By the tenth day of the exercise, forty percent of the trainees had exited the Safe Zone.

Considering how it normally took ten days for even one person to exit the Safe Zone, the performance of the current trainees was remarkable.
As a result, the supervisor and the instructors often spoke among themselves, saying the current trainees could become the best in the entire history of the Clan’s probationary training.

In addition to the aforementioned trainees, Yang Shin-Hae, Park Gi-Pyo, and Bae Woo-Gyeong were also considered ‘talents’… at least, on the surface.

“Is it possible that Lee Chang-Sun is less competent than he looks?”

“No way.
Every media outlet in the world has been talking about him for so long.
The White Tiger Clan are no fools.
They may have given Chang-Sun something special, though.
Otherwise, it would be impossible to master the Three Basic Skills in less than a day.”

“Maybe they did.”

The three Players had been chasing after Chang-Sun from the moment they exited the Safe Zone, planning to hit him in the back of his head.
Although the supervisor and the instructors had strongly cautioned the trainees against committing any crimes because instructors would be hiding all over the Dungeon, the three were well aware of the fact that the Clan representatives lacked both the skill and the desire to do such a thing.

Although the White Tiger Clan publicly acted righteous and acted like model citizens, at their core, they were what Players referred to as ‘thrill killers[5]’, a slang term that referred to demonic individuals who would do anything for money and pleasure.
The Clan put profit above all else, caring nothing about anything that was not to their benefit; in the training institute, they were no different.

The Dungeon known as the ‘Black Blood Mountain Range’ was extremely vast, and its difficulty level varied wildly across its various sectors.
No matter how the supervisor and the instructors tried, it would be impossible to monitor all the sectors, making it difficult for them to find out immediately if something happened.
That was why several accidents, large and small, happened in the training institute every year.

That was precisely what the three Players were banking on.
Before the supervisor and instructors could say anything, Chang-Sun had traveled deep into the mountain range, which meant it would not be strange if a ‘monster’ did ‘something’ to him.

The three expected Chang-Sun to be carrying a great treasure, assuming the White Tiger Clan would have offered something shockingly valuable to recruit someone of his caliber.
Although they had no idea what it was, they were certain that it would be very expensive; thus, they planned to steal it.

“Well, even if he doesn’t have any treasure, he earned a lot of money in his professional gamer years, right? On top of that, his family is also rich, so we’ll definitely be able to get something if we go through his stuff,” Woo-Gyeong remarked.

Shin-Hae and Gi-Pyo snickered, imagining the shining future to come.

“But…” Woo-Gyeong cautiously began.



“Should we really make our mission harder by messing with a guy who hasn’t done anything to us?” Woo-Gyeong finished, dampening their spirits.

Shin-Hae and Gi-Pyo frowned.
Their reaction frightened Woo-Gyeong a little; he quickly explained, seemingly making excuses, “Well, you know… We’ll really be fucked if we ruin our mission by stirring up trouble.”

The three were considered such notorious, demonic criminals that even the Council had put all-points bulletins out on them.
Despite that, their previous Clan, the Highoff Clan, had helped them join the White Tiger Clan, completely fooling the Clan’s personnel department.

The Highoff Clan had secretly killed three of the people who were originally slated to join the White Tiger Clan, helping Shin-Hae, Gi-Pyo, and Woo-Gyeong to steal their identities in order to pursue a particular objective.

“Participate in the White Tiger Clan’s probationary training and steal a [Dream Sphere].”

A [Dream Sphere] was an item produced by the White Tiger Clan using rare and precious herbs, such as ‘Crying Flowers’ and ‘Laughing Flowers’.
It would be precisely the sort of secret weapon the Highoff Clan needed after being driven into a corner by the White Tiger Clan.
Their current situation meant they had to obtain one no matter what.

However, it was very difficult to locate such spheres.
Even the Highoff Clan knew only that the facility that harvested and processed the ingredients to make [Dream Spheres] was in an extremely remote area in the ‘Black Blood Mountain Range’; it was very difficult to figure out the facility’s location.
That meant the three Players had to work in absolute secrecy to locate it.

The problem was that they were demonic Players who had zero patience.
Otherwise, they would not have ended up as criminals.
In their eyes, Chang-Sun looked like a baby elk(?) simply begging to be eaten.

Although they were well aware of how much skill Chang-Sun had displayed in the fight against the Drake, they thought that was his limit.
In the end, Chang-Sun was still a novice; they concluded that it would be absurd to compare him to themselves, as they had years of experience in the field.
As such, they had decided to carry out the mission given by the Highoff Clan after quickly disposing of Chang-Sun, who had gone off alone.

Woo-Gyeong, who was more timid than the other two, cautiously suggested being more careful.
However, there was no way the other two would listen to him.

Shin-Hae quietly tapped the handle of his kukri, the sharp, curved dagger on his waist.
He asked simply, “Do you want to die, or are you going to do it?”

em—“…I-I’ll do it,” Woo-Gyeong stuttered.

Naturally, there was no loyalty in such a group of demonic Players; thus, their first choice in any conflict was to draw their blades.
Anybody who was overwhelmingly more powerful than the rest of the group would be king, and their word would be law.
In their case, Shin-Hae was that very ‘king’.

Seeing Gi-Pyo about to unsling the bow on his shoulder, Woo-Gyeong took back his words with a pale face.

As he took his hand off the handle, Shin-Hae clicked his tongue and said, “If you say any other useless crap, the first thing I’ll do is pluck your head off your body and feed it to Dokgakgwis, so you’d better shut up.”

As Woo-Gyeong nodded with a heavy heart, Shin-Hae spat in annoyance, then resumed moving along Chang-Sun’s trail.

“Be good, okay?” Gi-Pyo remarked as he slapped the petrified Woo-Gyeong’s cheeks a few times, then moved to follow Shin-Hae.

Woo-Gyeong clenched his trembling fists.
Although he was timid, he could still be considered a demonic Player.
His eyes burned brightly with madness as he looked at the two companions ahead of him.

A red-bearded ghost that appears in the Assorted Writings of Yongjae (용재총화).
A man tried to dig up someone else’s grave to bury his father.
The person (the red-bearded man) who had originally been in the grave appeared in a fortune-teller’s dream, pounding on their chest and saying it was all their fault.
The fortune-teller died after that.

This is a monster from Korean Mythology.
It is said to grow bigger as long as one keeps looking at it, and even bigger the further one looks up.

Deities that appear in Korean mythology.
They usually fight off ghosts and protect humans, but it seems that the Dungeon’s ecosystem has turned them evil.

A mysterious army that appears in the mythological text ‘Samguk Yusa’.
It is said to have suddenly appeared to defend Silla (an ancient country in the Korean peninsula) from attack.
Again, the Dungeon seems to have turned them evil.

The raw used ‘머더러’, which is literally the English word ‘Murderer’ in hangul.

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