Episode 17

Pioneering The Labyrinth (2)
3 weeks ago
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The first thing Kim Hyunwoo had to do was hire a hero for Labyrinth exploration.

This was because only heroes employed by the Lord could undertake Labyrinths affiliated with the territory.

“If I had the heroes I raised before, this part would have been easier.”

Kim Hyunwoo made a slightly regretful face with that thought but quickly dismissed it.

Certainly, if he had the heroes he raised before, Labyrinth development could have been done in an instant, but the heroes Kim Hyunwoo raised were not here now.

“It would be convenient if I could negotiate a deal with Merilda for Labyrinth exploration.”

Of course, it seemed there was some degree of favorability with Merilda, but unfortunately, Kim Hyunwoo had no intention of asking her.

“That would be like burning down the house to catch a flea.”

It was clear that it would be convenient to somehow make a deal with Merilda and explore the reset Labyrinth.

Kim Hyunwoo had already witnessed her strength firsthand.

The problem was that if he hired Merilda, the Labyrinth city that needed to grow rapidly might just collapse.

In fact, the possibility of the Labyrinth city collapsing if he hired Merilda was almost inevitable.

The relationship penalty incurred from recruiting Merilda was significant enough to make that possible.

“…If only the relationship was a bit more intact.”

Kim Hyunwoo unknowingly recalled the endless list of relationship penalties he saw when Merilda’s recruitment window popped up, breaking out in a cold sweat.

Each one seemed to easily surpass -70, potentially leading to war, along with the nearly -1200% influx rate of territory residents when she was recruited.

…Anyway, given the situation, Kim Hyunwoo thought it best to find a new hero for Labyrinth exploration and came to the tavern, though he did not have high hopes.

After all, the chances of high-level heroes appearing were not very good unless the building’s level was fundamentally high.

More accurately, it would be correct to say that the gacha probability was not high.

Since the essence of this Arteil was gacha territory material, heroes coming was purely a gacha element, and with good luck, it was possible to draw a 5-star hero even if the tavern level was 1.

However, Kim Hyunwoo did not wish for such a stroke of luck.

After all, he had once spent the staggering amount of 500,000 won at the age of a middle schooler without drawing a 5-star, experiencing the bitterness of this world.

…Even then, the price for 10 consecutive draws was only 9,900 won, so he ended up using it for a total of 500 draws without getting a 5-star hero, leading him to tearfully convince himself that “raising a 1-star hero to 5-stars would be more fun,” which is why Kim Hyunwoo headed to the tavern without much expectation.

Yet there, he made a discovery.

“Uh, excuse me… If you’re okay with me, please take care of me.”

He stumbled upon a jackpot.

For some reason, Kim Hyunwoo looked at the hero window floating in front of him while watching her shyly greeting him.

※The target for recruitment is in the tavern, so the information window is available for viewing.
Hero Name: Elena
Title: X
Star: 1 star ★
Affection: 0
-Stats-
Strength: 19 Agility: 24
Intelligence: 17 Luck: 18
Magic Power: 15
-Traits-
Hard Worker: Efforts to diligently perform any task, maintaining maximum efficiency in training and execution.
Insight: When using a weapon with a talent beyond 'innate,' there's a 50% chance for attacks to be considered as ignoring defense.
-Talent-
Has an innate talent for hand axes.
-Skills-
[View]

Contrary to Kim Hyunwoo’s beaming enthusiasm, her information window appeared to be a typical 1-star ability window with nothing particularly special.

Yet, what he liked was,

“The Hard Worker, Insight, and innate talent…!”

It was because Elena’s trait and talent windows formed an incredible harmony.

In this Arteil, what fundamentally determined a hero’s performance were traits and talent.

Of course, naturally 5-star heroes from the start have insurmountable basic stats, but for all other heroes, traits and talent were very important.

To the extent that depending on how harmoniously these traits and talents align, it could determine the number of stars a hero could ultimately achieve.

In that sense, the information window of Elena in front of him was so good that Kim Hyunwoo couldn’t help but applaud.

“How can it fit together so perfectly?”

Of course, Kim Hyunwoo had seen many heroes with better traits and talent than Elena.

Even just glancing through the information windows of about seven heroes present here, there were those with better stats or superior trait and talent combinations than Elena.

However, what is important in this game is that the synergy between traits and talent must be properly harmonized.

For example, the hero sitting immediately to Elena’s right had a trait called “Eyes that See the Truth.”

The “Eyes that See the Truth” trait, as extraordinary as its name, is a fraudulent trait that, for talents prefixed with “incredible,” allows all attacks to be considered as ignoring defense.

Unfortunately, that hero does not have a talent with the “incredible” prefix.

All it has is a usable level of swordsmanship.

In other words, no matter how good the trait is, in such a situation, it just ends up being a mirage.

And in Arteil, there are many such regrettable trait and talent combinations, making Elena’s combination exceptionally excellent.

“Of course, growing like this, 4-stars might be the limit.”

Kim Hyunwoo, who has a history of raising all 1-star heroes to 5-stars, has a lot of know-how in raising heroes.

Thus, confident in his ability to overcome Elena’s innate limits to make her a 5-star, he smiled confidently.

[★Would you like to make a recruitment offer to the hero 'Elena'? Y/N]

“Please take care of me.”

“Uh, uh… I, too, ask for your care.”

He placed his hand on Elena’s recruitment window without hesitation, smiling, and then said,

“Shall we get started with the work right away?”


The Altaz mercenary group, composed of about ten members, not of particularly high rank but well-known in this region for their long-term activity.

Among them, Column, who could be called the leader, looked ahead with a blank expression.

In front of them was a goblin tribe in a forest not far from the Lartania territory.

“But are we really just going to stay like this?”

Looking at the tribe, which seemed to have been neglected for quite some time and had grown considerably, Column responded to a subordinate’s voice coming from beside him.

“What?”

“No, I mean, is it okay to just watch like this?”

“If I said to watch, then that’s what we should do.”

The subordinate spoke with a look of complete incomprehension to Column’s blank-faced response.

“It’s strange. What was the Lord thinking when he hired us?”

“How would I know that?”

The reason the mercenary group, including Column, was here was because Kim Hyunwoo, the Lord of Lartania, had hired them upon their visit to the newly established territory, wondering if they were looking for work.

The reason they did not approach the goblin tribe beyond a certain distance was that the mercenary group was not hired to subdue the goblins.

“…Watch the hero fight and save her if an unforeseen situation arises, perhaps.”

As these thoughts came to him, Column looked at the subject of the request in front of him.

Her, standing in front of the goblin tribe, with long blue hair, holding a small hand axe in each hand.

Chuckle.

Seeing Elena standing timidly in front of the goblin tribe, Column chuckled without realizing it.

“…So the Lord who established Lartania ten years ago lacks discernment.”

Column knew Elena.

To be more precise, he couldn’t help but know her.

She was a woman known in the vicinity of this area as the “Failed Hero,” a name that was clearly a derogatory term to anyone who heard it.

Despite being a hero, her abilities were so meager that mercenaries who had worked with Elena even once often ridiculed her, wondering how she became a hero.

Even though the mockery sprang from the sullenness of mercenaries who had not become heroes, it was true that she was weak.

Thus, the mercenaries, including Column, said,

“I didn’t expect to see a hero die in front of my eyes when it’s not even a war.”

“What nonsense? If she dies, we won’t get our fee.”

“Ah, right. Well, even if she wasn’t a failed hero, heroes without a reputation couldn’t possibly single-handedly eliminate a goblin horde of more than 200 individuals.”

The mercenaries’ conversation went as such.

Indeed, as they said, it was virtually impossible for a hero without even a reputation to eliminate a goblin horde alone.

“Seems like she won’t be able to kill even one, right?”

“Last time, it seemed like she managed to kill about 34 by sneaking into their gaps.”

“Shall we make a bet?”

The mercenaries started betting on how many goblins Elena could kill.

Along with the mercenaries’ conversation, they began to watch the failed hero’s fight as goblins, as if on cue, burst out of the tribe and ran towards Elena with their rusty weapons raised.

About ten minutes later.

“……”

Silence spread among the mercenaries who had been laughing and jeering.

Even the mercenaries who had been smiling.

Even the ones who had been scoffing.

Even Column, who had just mocked the Lord’s discernment.

All fell silent.

The reason was the numerous goblin corpses surrounding Elena.

“What… what?”

“Does this make sense?”

At the same time, it was because of Elena, who, despite having wounds all over her body, stood covered in blood, holding a hand axe in each hand.

“???”

Seeing this, all the mercenaries looked at Elena with expressions full of astonishment and questions.

Elena had single-handedly decimated the goblin tribe with two unremarkable hand axes.

“???”

Breathing heavily, she stood there dumbfounded, with a look of not understanding why.

“Eh? What… what?”

She murmured to herself unknowingly.

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