Episode 36

The First 3-Star Promotion Test (2)
1 week ago
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‘Rank.’

Commonly known as ★, was the character’s grade.

And ‘Promotion’ was the test to raise it.

For this, one reserves a spot in a Guild or Clan, and the approved Order gathers the information for it.

Of course, it wasn’t free or something.

The Order collects money in the name of a sacred offering from those attempting the test.

And the higher the ‘Rank’, the more they collect.

In the case of Meowi, the most common 3★ promotion test cost about 50 million won.

That’s right.

They charge 50 million won just to enter once and explain what it is.

‘…Highway robbers are what they are.’

Anyway, you should have understood the basic structure by now.

So, what exactly is this promotion test about?

What is done that causes the mysterious potential known as ★ to awaken in a character?

In ‘GAL’, this was simply expressed.

Exactly, through mini-games.

‘…Tetris or shooting games like Gallog, racing cars, 1-on-1 PVP, etc…’

It seemed that the mini-games popular around the early 1990s to 2000s were the conditions for promotion.

So, when I first entered Yu Seha’s body, I was insanely curious about it.

What would the promotion exam be in this world where ‘GAL’ has become reality?

Common sense would suggest one could become a human weapon with transcendent power, capable of fighting monsters and seizing all kinds of wealth and honor.

It wouldn’t seem likely that hunters would increase their ranks through children’s play-like mini-games.

But reality is always known to be cruel.

“…What do you mean what? It was just the same.”

Regrettably, just like the ‘Backup’ shown by Moon Bora, this was also thoroughly the same.

In the end, it was still a mini-game.

However, unlike simply tapping the phone screen a few times to complete the task with a ‘click’, this was on a completely different level of difficulty.

One had to personally perform the task according to the set conditions, and there could be no mistakes in doing so.

It seemed inevitable since this has become the actual reality.

If one makes a mistake even once.
All the tests performed previously would turn to bubbles, and one would have to retake the entire promotion test.

‘Did they say the cooldown was half a year?’

For half a year, even if the conditions were met, one could not take the promotion test.

And then, one had to go back to the Tower, and pay money to learn about the conditions again!

Because the content of the test could change…

If something more difficult were to be selected.
Or if a mini-game of a genre one was completely unprepared for came up.
It would literally be a disaster.

Therefore, everyone tried whatever they could to pass on the first try.

That’s because it’s the best story progress.

And thankfully, all the tests given to Meowi were, in my personal opinion, the easiest ones.


“So… there were two tests in total, right?”
“Yes… since my rank is currently 2 stars (★), I need to pass two tests to move up to 3 stars.”

This part was also the same as ‘GAL’.

To move from 3 stars to 4 stars, you need to pass three tests.

To move from 4 stars to 5 stars, you need to pass four tests.

Of course, even if the tests were of the same type, the higher the rank, the more difficult they would become.

“So the first test is winning two matches against hunters of the same rank, right?”

“Yes, the period is 10 days. I think it’s a sure win too.”

As she said, the duel was the simplest, easiest, and most convenient among the promotion tests that could exist.

Just fight and win.

‘Even the second test has to be easy.’

No matter how lucky one is, it’s not easy to win every test before it even begins.

It was just my guess, but I thought the results she got were influenced by her unique abilities.

‘[Nekomata’s Luck].’

An ability of unknown origin, even to me.

We tried various experiments, but in the end, both of us gave up on figuring it out.

It’s all speculation, after all.

“Anyway, that went well! This should make it easy to move up to three stars, right? I heard someone took over five years to advance.”

“B-but the second test… I’m not confident in it. And it might be too… embarrassing if something weird happens.”

“Don’t worry! I’ll help you. Just trust me!”

“…Meow.”


An hour later, having finished our work much earlier than planned, we returned to the Guild.

Once again, the meticulous female staff member took care of us.

Without a word, the employee said, “Please wait a moment,” and typed at an invisible speed, finishing the record in less than a minute.

“It was at a good timing.”
“Sorry?”
“According to the search, among those who applied for the podium today, there is someone who meets the same promotion conditions as Miss Ma Hana. You can have a sparring match as soon as they arrive… What do you think?”

Oh, that’s good news.
It meant she could do it right away without wasting any time.

‘Of course, I’ll need to check the opponent’s class.’

Meowi’s class was [Guardian].

True to a tanker whose job was to take hits, the compatibility with a ‘Ranged’ dealer was the worst.

Therefore, if the opponent’s equipment or attire seems to be ‘ranged’, I’d make her retreat without looking back.

“Ah, here they come.”

At the employee’s words, I turned my head as fast as lightning.
You must assess your opponent’s value within five seconds and flee if it’s disadvantageous… Huh?

“…Are you talking about those two?”
“That’s correct. Both are under the same conditions.”

Just my luck, it’s a festival day…
Were they the ones she was supposed to spar with?

In front of us, we saw a familiar duo with green and orange hair.

Both seem utterly exhausted from the teaching duties, their faces scrunched up in frustration.

“…?”
“Ah! You guys!”

They continued with lines like those of third-rate villains.
I, unbothered, spoke to the employee.

“Please go ahead with the sparring.”
“Understood. I will make the offer to both of them.”

Could you please wait in the sparring arena for now?


The female employee twirled a pen in her hand while writing something in a binder.

She looked at the cat and the duo of thieves, explaining the rules and regulations.

“Each of you will have a duel with a hunter of the same rank. And each must win twice. Is that correct?”
“Yes.”
“Why do you keep asking?!”
“Let’s get started already!”
“Very well. You can decide the order of the matches through discussion amongst yourselves.”

As the employee finished speaking, Meowi looked at me.
She held the shield on her back with one hand and had a broad smile.
Then she mouthed the words to me.

‘I’ll be back.’

I nodded vigorously, and Meowi grinned broadly.
Barely containing my rising emotions, I heard a voice.

“Hey, half-breed. Good timing.”

In the dueling arena, the pair of thieves stood, and the one with orange hair was starting to warm up first.
It seemed she would be the first to step forward.

“I was already annoyed, but today I’m really–”
“Excuse me, this seems like a waste of time.”

Bang!
Meowi slammed down the shield she was holding and cut off their words.

“Both of you, just come at me together.”
“…What?”
“What?! What did you just say to us?”

The duo was infuriated by the blatant disregard towards them
Meowi looked ahead nonchalantly, then turned her head towards the employee.

“Is that okay?”

“If it’s agreed upon by both parties, it’s possible.”

“Hey, hey! This damn half-breed! Just because you found a trial, do we look like a joke to you now…?”

“Are you scared? What’s taking you so long?”

Provoked by Meowi’s strong taunt, the orange-haired one was stunned at her response.
In contrast, my face was filled with admiration for her.

‘…I taught her well.’

A taunt that a main tank should learn!
I had been instilling it in our innocent and kind Meowi’s mind whenever I could…
Seeing her use it so well doubled my admiration.

Then she showcased the ultimate move I had taught her.

“Could it be that you are chickening out?”

“…!!!”
“Th-this, damn furball bitch!”

Ah! This is it!

At least for ‘GAL’, there’s no stronger provocation than the word ‘chickening’.

Sure enough.
The duo immediately drew their weapons and took their positions.

“Today, I’ll finish you off for good!”
“You cat woman!”

“It seems like there’s an agreement.”

The employee lifted a flare gun she had in her possession.

“I assume you are familiar with the sparring rules. Skills and equipment are allowed, but the use of illegal consumables and potions is strictly prohibited here. Also, attacks on vital points and persistently hitting the same spot are grounds for immediate defeat.”

Having finished speaking, the employee pulled the trigger with her characteristic expressionless face.

Bang!

“Please begin.”


“Hmm.”

Yu Seha crossed his arms and watched the duel unfold before him.

Ma Hana, who withstood well based on her fast and durable resilience, moved deftly to counter the attacks of the duo.

The sparring continued quite tensely.

‘…Good. They are fighting better than I expected.’

Forcing her to sleep on the bus until they got here, among other things.
The effort he put into managing her condition seemed to have paid off.

‘…The one with green hair is <Sipeu>, the one with orange hair is <Rogue>.’

Both classes belonged to the <Assassin> type.

Among them, rather than utility skills like [Trap Detection], [Scouting], or [Lockpicking], they focused more on offense.

Though they were minor classes, being [Assassins], nonetheless, their single attack power was quite respectable.

A green light wrapped around the dagger swung by the one with green hair, like an afterimage.

It was one of <Sipeu>’s ‘Select Skill Trees’, [Poison Coating]. It was an annoying buff that causes [Poison] status abnormalities on the targets it hit.

Meanwhile, the orange-haired was rushing to the front, continuously swinging and punching at Ma Hana.

A faintly spreading orange aura of magic power was causing quite heavy and fast fist strikes.

A derived skill from the [Fighting] attribute.
There was no doubt it was [Combo].
It was a decent skill with appropriate power and range.

‘…Foolish.’

<Rogue> could fight in close range, but her primary strength lay in mid-range combat.

Her basic tendency was to keep chipping in by creating daggers with magic power and using the [Dagger Throw] technique.

The fact that she recklessly charged in, throwing punches, showed just how agitated she was.

‘It should have ended earlier.’

What was unexpected was the green-haired one.

I thought she would just recklessly charge.
But she was dealing with it more cleverly than expected.

‘She’s observing and trying to stack poison as much as possible.’

If it seemed disadvantageous, she would quickly withdraw and cover the orange-haired one, showing quite decent skills.

Ma Hana knew this, too, so she couldn’t immediately follow up with an attack.

It was a two-against-one fight from the start.

Naturally, she was at a disadvantage, but she wasn’t too worried.

And he knew better than anyone how much effort the girl with him had exerted.


“[Poison Stab]!”

The green-haired one, who had been circling around looking for an opportunity, gripped her dagger tightly.

As she shouted the skill, a green hue spread from the dagger to the back of her hand, imbued with a unique magic.

A complex skill that deals physical damage and a small amount of poison to a single target.

Thump!

Though it was certainly fast, Ma Hana didn’t give even a slight opening and blocked the attack with her shield.

Slowly but surely, she was stopping it all.

A green poison began to spread across Ma Hana’s body.

Despite blocking with the shield, there was clear evidence of a [Poison] status effect.

However, the spreading poison soon disappeared.

This was due to the ‘14’ durability rating Ma Hana possessed.
And the [Poison Resistance: 5] immediately blocked it.

“…!”

At that moment, Ma Hana sensed danger behind her.

While the green-haired one caught her eye, the orange-haired one quietly approached and quickly closed the distance.

“Die!!!”

The fist thrust forward created three afterimages.
It was a phenomenon shown by the fast attack speed characteristic of the [Rapid Strike] skill.

Kagagang!

However, for Ma Hana, who could clearly see the movements beyond the shield with [Transparent Sight], it wasn’t much of a threat.

Frustrated by the ineffective attacks, the orange-haired one shouted loudly.

“…So what?! You think improving a little changes the fact that you’re just a punching bag for others?!!”

They were provocative words, but true nonetheless.

The [Guardian] class, was one that focused on defense, and notably lacked offensive capabilities.

Thus, in such PVP duels, it was the most disadvantaged class, too.

“You made a mistake challenging both of us at once, you fool!!!”
“Die now!!”

Bang!

Hidden behind her shield, Ma Hana silently blocked their strikes and glanced at Yu Seha.

With his arms crossed, he looked at her with steady eyes.

The smile at the corner of his mouth conveyed the message.

‘You can do it.’

“…Haaaa.”

Ma Hana slowly caught her breath.
She infused magic into the power known as [Skill], etched deep within her.
The power, rising like a dragon through her body, colored her hands and soon spread to her shield.

“Wh-what is that?!”

She thrust her shield forward towards the bewildered duo.

“[Push Shield]!”

Bang!

A shockwave, bursting forth, echoed in all directions, and blood spurted from the mouths of the two who were hit.

“Good job!”

Yu Seha, who was watching, clenched his fist tightly.
However, the match was not over yet.

Ma Hana’s attack power was slightly lacking to deliver a finishing blow.

‘…Still, thanks to that, she must have gotten the hang of fighting them.’

Because the shield she was holding was now emitting a new power that Ma Hana had not shown before.

“You, damn… bitch!”
“Kugh… N-no way. Th-that dropout kid… has such a powerful attack skill…?”

The duo staggered from the shockwave.
Watching them, Ma Hana ran forward without hesitation.

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