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The Hero Returns is a web novel created by Heuk Ahin. This webnovel is right now Ongoing.
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Chapter 172: Chapter 172
And then, ten million points.
There was a huge gap between the two. One was pathetically small, while the other was way too much.
Even then, the former would always be the more realistic answer of the two. Well, ten million wasn’t the kind of point tally that an awakener reaching the 41st floor could ever hope to possess, after all.
“Sir, you definitely said ten million points….”
“Correct. Ten million.”
“You’re yanking my chain, yes?”
Su-hyeun simply opened his palm and showed it to the shopkeeper after hearing the question. The unmissable numbers were clearly written there.
[Available achievement points : 10,854,455]
One, ten, hundred, thousand, ten thousand…
The shopkeeper, his lips silently mouthing those words, suddenly straightened his back and asked another question. “W-what would you like to have, sir?”
“I’ve already told you, haven’t I?”
“Ah, that’s right. Elixirs related to strength… Let’s see, what should I recommend…”
“I’m planning to buy it in bulk, so give me a nice discount, please. If I’m not happy with the number you quote me, I might as buy them on the next floor.”
“Of course, sir! Absolutely. Also, our wares are the finest available anywhere, so you can rest easy, sir.”
The shopkeeper, the owner of the place, began rummaging through every nook and cranny of the shop while he spoke, and he brought out several items. All of them were elixirs, as well as medicinal herbs that aided in enhancing one’s strength. Several items mixed in among the pack even managed to stun Su-hyeun outright.
“Now normally, all these items will add up to around 9.8 million points, but… Eii, I’ll just calculate them all as 9 million straight.”
“I already know that the original total is only 9.3 million.”
“What will you do now?”
“How about 8.5 million for everything, sir? Ah, and the item on the photograph is unfortunately out of stock, so please wait for a couple of days for them to arrive. Of course, after paying the fee upfront, customer.”
“Alright, let’s do that.”
Su-hyeun paid the balance, received his things, and left the store. He bought a lot of stuff and many of them happened to be rare items as well, so, understandably, he couldn’t get everything at once.
Should I absorb these elixirs over the course of the two days?
Su-hyeun thought about it, but eventually shook his head.
After securing half of the elixir supply, Su-hyeun visited a few other stores before returning back to reality. The first thing he did when he arrived back home was to get a good, thorough scrubbing and a change of clothes. It was around early afternoon, just past the lunch hour.
He emerged from the bathroom all scrubbed clean and checked his phone. Several messages were waiting in his inbox. The sender of the very first message on top was Lee Ju-ho.
-Hey, I heard you cleared the 40th floor? Congrats. You took longer than usual, though. Was it that difficult?
It seemed that the news of Su-hyeun pa.s.sing the 40th floor had already spread on the Abyss Online.
–People online were going absolutely mad, saying that, because you were taking your time, you got lazy and your bubble has finally bust, or whatever. Well, they’re saying that because they have no clue, so don’t sweat over it.
It was a needless worry.
Su-hyeun didn’t really enjoy visiting social media portal sites. He’d rather invest one more minute, one more second in the Tower of Trials instead of waste his free time doing that.
While typing his replies to the inbox full of messages, he headed to the underground parking lot. Most of the texts were from Thomas. Every time he took a break from climbing the tower, he’d send whining messages about wanting to hang out with Su-hyeun.
Still, he had somewhere to go first. He had already promised to meet s.h.i.+n Su-yeong later in the evening, but she should still be working at the moment, so that left him with some time to kill.
Su-hyeun immediately headed to Yangpyeong—to Kim Dae-ho’s workshop.
He knocked on the front door.
“Uncle, are you home?”
The clang of metal abruptly ended, and a man’s voice came out from inside the building.
The metallic noise started up again.
Su-hyeun headed below the workshop. Every single time he came to visit this place, Kim Dae-ho was always doing the exact same thing.
He entered the workshop full of stifling hot air and found the blacksmith focused on the tempering process, not even bothering to turn to greet his guest.
No one should disturb him in this moment, so Su-hyeun crossed his arms and leaned against the wall to observe the back of the concentrating Kim Dae-ho.
A short while later, the blacksmith straightened his back and stood up as if he was finally finished with his work. “Urgh. Have you been waiting for long?”
“No, it hadn’t been long.”
“I tried to finish it early in consideration of you. Besides, it looks like a failure, anyway.”
Su-hyeun sneaked a glance at the completed sword.
The best ‘failure’ Su-hyeun had ever seen, the weapon looked to be a wonderfully crafted item even from a single cursory glance. It was crafted with Ether stones as its base, and he could sense its excellent magical power conductivity, as well as its superb cutting force.
He’d learn more about it only by using it, but, without a doubt, the sword was in no way a failure.
“What’s up with that face of yours?”
“Well, I was just thinking that you’re truly an amazing craftsman, that’s all, uncle.”
“Stop blabbering nonsense and follow me. Let me treat you to a cup of tea,” said Kim Dae-ho. He lightly pounded on his back while guiding Su-hyeun to the living room. The older man silently brewed tea, then pushed the hot cup forward. “Drink.”
They had gotten fairly close recently, but this level of over-the-top treatment hadn’t happened in a long time. And Su-hyeun knew why Kim Dae-ho was acting so considerate to him.
“Uncle, I get the feeling that you’re really looking forward to it. Am I right?”
At Su-hyeun’s question, Kim Dae-ho sipping the tea visibly flinched. He tried to avoid meeting the gaze as if he’d been busted for good.
Su-hyeun did his best to suppress his laughter and carried on. “I’m the one asking you for all these favors, so I should be thanking you for your hard work.”
“What’s this incredible material you’ve been telling me about?”
“It’s a part of back sh.e.l.l I took from a monster’s corpse, actually. I ran into it during my trial, and, as luck would have it, I was in possession of a couple of ‘Dimension Order Forms’ so I ripped a few pieces off and brought them out with me.”
“Material from a monster’s remains? No matter how st.u.r.dy a monster’s hide is, it can’t be better than forged metal combined with Ether stones…”
Disbelief, and even hints of disappointment, were mixed in Kim Dae-ho’s eyes.
Su-hyeun pulled out a small fragment gleaming in blackish light from his inner pocket. It was a piece of the t.i.tan Turtle’s sh.e.l.l. “For now, why don’t you just take a look?”
“Alright, I will.”
Kim Dae-ho received the fist-sized fragment from Su-hyeun and stood up from his spot, then headed straight to the workshop. The latter didn’t follow, choosing instead to wait where he was while sipping on the hot tea.
And so, about an hour later.
“T-this, this thing. Did it really come from a monster’s corpse??”
Kim Dae-ho returned, looking quite agitated, which was rather unlike his usual self.
He must’ve done various things to the t.i.tan Turtle’s sh.e.l.l fragment currently held in his hands because not only was it glowing red from heat, there were several nicks and scratches on its surface, too.
As Su-hyeun wasn’t a blacksmith, he wasn’t 100% sure why Kim Dae-ho had become so excited to such a degree. But one thing was for sure—he did know how incredibly hard the t.i.tan Turtle’s sh.e.l.l was.
“Yes. It was a monster resembling a turtle.”
“Not only its hardness and solidity, but even its resistance to fire is truly incredible. I still need to check and learn more about it, but, if my predictions are correct, this thing’s innate resistance towards magical energy should be even greater than adamantium.”
“Can it be refined?”
Su-hyeun’s question caused Kim Dae-ho to frow thoughtfully.
He scratched the fragment with his nail for a bit, before making his reply. “Nothing’s impossible, but it’ll take some time. I might need at least half a year to craft just a single set of armor. For one, smelting this thing will prove to be a challenge.”
Kim Dae-ho must’ve been looking forward to it, because his voice was already filled with barely-contained excitement.
What the blacksmith said afterward was mostly about things Su-hyeun couldn’t understand all that well. So, he pretended to be paying attention, before finally squeezing in his question. “In any case, you said it’ll take half a year, didn’t you?”
“That I did.”
“I’ll send you a few high-grade Ether stones in a couple of days. Can you also mix in the leftover bits of adamantium from the last time as well?”
“….You also want adamantium, too??”
Just the high-grade Ether stones alone would make this item invaluable in terms of its worth. And if it had adamantium mixed in as well, albeit only a minute quant.i.ty, even someone like Kim Dae-ho couldn’t imagine what the end product would be like.
He would have to craft it to find out. But he already had an inkling as to where it might be used. “Should I craft a dedicated magic resistance defensive armor set?”
“How did you guess?”
“This metal… No, wait. You said it’s a piece of a monster sh.e.l.l. In any case, it can only be armor if you want to combine this thing, adamantium and high-grade Ether stones.”
“But, both the hardness and strength would rise up, right?”
“If you were only thinking of raising the hardness and strength, then it’s better to leave out the high-grade Ether stones. You’d still be able to add one or two defense-type skills on it, you see.”
Any equipment crafted with high-grade Ether stones was capable of carrying several skills activated by special means.
For instance, the cutting force enhancement skill built into Balmung was one such example. The magic blade edge that spun quickly like the teeth of a chainsaw was also another effect from the highest-grade Ether stones.
“I’d like you to add only skills related to magic resistance, please.”
“Are you planning to fight someone? Why are you so focused on the magic resistance?”
“What do you mean, someone. I’m an awakener and it’s my job to fight monsters, you know.”
“But, from what I hear, with the exception of a few, most monsters specialize in physical attacks, don’t they?”
“Well, that is true, but….”
But, that was still ‘most of’. The ‘named’-grade monsters soon to appear in the near future were heavily specialized in magical attacks, rather than the usual physical ones.
Monsters like Fafnir, or the Lich King. At a bare minimum, he needed equipment specializing in anti-magic properties in order to fight those two.
Although Falcon’s Holy Armor did help out, the impact from Karne’s Breath attack was still considerable.
Unlike physical attacks, magic was harder to dodge and also rather c.u.mbersome to defend against. The same thing applied to destructive power, too. Any magic attack on a similar level to Karne’s Breath possessed more than enough power to completely obliterate a small mountain without a trace.
So, what would it be like with Fafnir, then?
That was one of the most obvious differences compared to his previous life—being able to prepare a lot earlier than before.
Su-hyeun knew the characteristics of not just Fafnir but the other monsters to appear in the future. And, as such, he could prepare the necessary items to subjugate them ahead of time.
The Falcon’s Holy Amor, skills related to magic resistance, plus the armor he asked Kim Dae-ho to craft this time, were all part of his preparations.
Kim Dae-ho asked. “That’s true, but so what?”
“It’s nothing important.”
The ambiguous reply only made Kim Dae-ho frown deeply, an expression he made when not feeling all that happy about something. Su-hyeun felt guilty, so he avoided meeting the older man’s glare.
“Seriously, I don’t like this. What could you possibly be hiding to this degree, I wonder?”
“I’m sorry, uncle.”
“Apologizing now is basically you admitting that you’re hiding something. But, fine. Me trying to pry into your affairs is already stupid, anyway. Just hand over the materials and go home,” said Kim Dae-ho.
Su-hyeun delivered the t.i.tan Turtle’s sh.e.l.l brought out through the Property of Dimension Order Form to the workshop.
“I’ll leave everything to you, uncle.”
“Alright, then. And, if you happen to have more nice materials, bring them to me as well.”
Su-hyeun emerged from Kim Dae-ho’s workshop.
Just before he could start the car parked at the foot of the mountain, his phone began ringing.
“Nah, not really. I was on my way home after paying the uncle a visit, actually.”
-That thing you asked me about earlier? It’s almost done. Why don’t you come over and take a final look-see?
Su-hyeun was surprised by the unexpectedly rapid progress and had to ask again. He hurriedly checked the time, only to frown slightly.
It was half-past three in the afternoon.
If he was to return and meet Lee Ju-ho before showing up on time for s.h.i.+n Su-yeong, then no doubt he’d have to move pretty quickly.
“Okay. For now, I’ll go to your location.”
After ending the call, Su-hyeun immediately turned on the ignition of the car. He stepped on the accelerator a bit more urgently than usual. About one hour of driving from Yangpyeong later, he was able to reach the Jongno Tower.
Lee Ju-ho matched the timing and stepped outside the building to wait for Su-hyeun’s arrival. As if he was trying to get some work done even during this short interval, he was sitting on the bench, typing away on a notebook.
Su-hyeun quickly walked over and asked him. “What are you working on?”
“It’s all because of you, dude. Just who was it that dumped all these mountains of work on me?”
“…I have no excuse.”
Su-hyeun scratched his head, feeling rather apologetic. The work Lee Ju-ho had been doing until a second ago was something he had entrusted the older man with.
Lee Ju-ho started first. “In any case, the thing you asked me for will be completed as soon as the permission is granted. We even got bookings from the sponsors, too. And also…”
“Is there another problem?”
“Let me say one thing to you first. While you were absent, Hak-joon and Thomas made a proposal. Oh, and for the record, I agreed to it, as well.”
“What’s the proposal?”
Su-hyeun suddenly grew rather curious after learning that a proposal came from Hak-joon’s and Thomas’s head. Though it didn’t initially feel all that trustworthy, since Lee Ju-ho agreed with it, the proposal itself shouldn’t be a bad one, at least.
Lee Ju-ho smirked after seeing how intrigued Su-hyeun got and finally spoke.
“Why don’t the four of us make a guild of our own?”
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