Chapter 4: Chapter 3: Test 1455? Part Three
Before my return, there was a piece of information that just about everyone knew. A special piece of information… about the first person to become a deva.
The first person to use a Don Gate was granted a title, “Humanity’s First Evolver”, along with 100 stat points.
To have a total of 100 points was an enormous amount. But it wasn’t for just one stat, but all stats.
Normally, when you gained a level, you were granted 10 bonus stat points.
You could use those points however you want for 5 stat categories: strength, stamina, intelligence, willpower, and agility.
But the first person to use a Don Gate received 100 points for all five stats: 100 for strength, 100 for stamina, 100 for intelligence, 100 for willpower, and 100 for agility for a total of 500 points. That was equivalent to 50 levels!
Just being the first to become a deva meant you were 50 levels ahead of everyone else!
“It’s a complete scam. Such an advantage available at the beginning.”
Of course, back then, it wasn’t that crucial of information. It had to happen for people to know about it. Everyone knew about it because it never happened again. But now this information was precious. I wouldn’t sell it for a billion dollars!
And so, I had written down everything I knew and everything I needed to be ahead of everyone else.
This time it would be different. This time I would emerge as the victor, not the loser.
When I jumped into the Sea of Reset, it was because I was a complete loser.
When you use a token of knowledge at a Don Gate, you were no longer a human, but rather a character from a VR game, an avatar-like deva.
When you become a deva, it doesn’t matter if you die from a monster, from falling, or from drowning at sea; you don’t really die because you can resurrect yourself. But there was a penalty system to that.
The first time you die, you lose 2 points from each of your stats. This effect was semi-permanent. Of course, there was a way to recover those lost points, but it was at a heavy cost. It wasn’t also easily accessible, especially to a normal guy like me. I never even came across it.
Anyway, when you use a token at a Don Gate, you start at level 0 with all your stats at 20. But once you die, your entire stat line drops by 2 points; when you resurrect, your stats are at 18.
You also lose the 10 points you gained when you leveled up. In other words, dying meant you lost an entire level.
Hypothetically, if you were to die 10 times without increasing any of your stats, and die another time, your stats would be at -2.
At that point, when you leveled up and gain 10 stat points, those points would only serve to cancel out your current -2 points, putting you at 0 stat points in all. It was for this reason that everyone feared the death penalty the most.
Back then I hunted like my life depended on it, and managed to reach level 576.
That was my level right before I jumped into the Sea of Reset.
With that level, I was considered to be mid-low tier. But the reason I was a loser was that I had died 154 times!
Leveling up to 576, I had gained a total of 5760 points. When I became a deva, I gained an additional 20 points each, a total of 100. So in all, I had 5860 points, but dying 154 times meant I had thrown away a total of 1540 points.
So while I was level 576, I only had the stat points of a level 422 person. On top of that, I was a fire mage and my stats were allocated accordingly.
And so, after my 100th death, my already low strength and agility had dropped down to negative.
All of the stat points that I gained by leveling automatically went to my negative skills to bring them back up to zero. For a while, my main stats remained stagnant.
It didn’t matter if I was a fire mage or any other job; I was already in that sticky situation and there was no way out of it.
The only thing that I could was to hunt monsters at or below level 576. But hunting in itself was hard enough.
I couldn’t just enter a party to hunt, as my damage output was too low and I would just become a burden to the rest of the party members.
Even using items and buffs to compensate for this penalty was not efficient enough.
And so, even after using my token to become a deva and grinding to level 576 for eight years, I ended up jumping into the Sea of Reset!
“Grr…” I ground my teeth thinking of that bastard!
“Son of a bitch! Just you wait. I don’t know why you forced me into that position, but it will be different this time! I will crush your bones to dust!”
I may have died 154 times, but 132 of those times happened at level 576. I died 132 times at level 576. Back to back!
The times I died at first seemed almost wasteful. But that was because I was inexperienced and didn’t know much about the monsters I was hunting.
There was no exchanging of information with one another. You had to pay for any small amount of data.
Info became power, authority, and money. People who had it never just gave it out to those looking for handouts.
Back then, there wasn’t even much data about the Sea of Reset.
The Sea of Reset had only been discovered for about a year. At that level, people usually had a death count of 30 when they used the Sea of Reset.
There were also plenty of people with an average of 40 deaths that used the Sea.
I was helpless when I first died, but I accepted and learned from those mistakes and worked even harder. Which is why the other 22 times I died happened when I was a noob.
If I recall correctly, from level 300 to 576 I had only died about 10 times. That’s how hard I worked. But then I met that bastard.
“Lee Gi Chan! Son of a bitch!”
It was all Lee Gi Chan’s fault.
The bastard that killed me 132 times! The bastard that tied me up and killed me over and over, the bastard that had his familiar shadow me to my respawn points to kill, was him!
The shadowy familiar was incredibly stealthy and had high magic resistance, and since I was a fire mage with limited range and only had items that would boost my magic damage, it made it very difficult for me to properly counterattack.
And like that, he killed me 132 times before freeing me. Freed me as if he was going out of his way to help me.
I had no idea who he was. I had no information about him.
At first, he came up to me as if he were finding out who I was. He didn’t approach me with any hostile intent. But like he just flipped a switch, he just ruined me.
He left me no choice but to jump into the Sea of Reset!
“I don’t know who you are, but I will have my revenge. I will do everything in my power to bury you. I will drag you to Hell!”
Of course, none of this has happened yet…
I don’t know why I had returned to the past, and to dream of revenge about something that hadn’t really happened yet seemed a bit much. But the grief I received was too much.
The fact that we were under the same sky and sun pissed me off so much!
It was obvious that he had authority. He had over a hundred people under his command, some of which were quite strong, so strong that I couldn’t even look at them.
But I would become stronger than him and absolutely bury him. Because I knew the future!
I will be stronger than him by tenfold! A hundredfold! A thousand fold! I know I will become so strong, that no one will be able to contest me!
I had just wandered around, not taking advantage of all those great changes the Scientist had given us, but this it would be different.
I knew it all now. All those experiences had been engraved into my bones.
“I have one year left. One year to carefully prepare myself! And I’ll have to go there right away. To the place the first Don Gate appeared and become the first to be reborn!” I wrote in big letters on the front cover of my notebook.
It was the first thing I had to do to become the victor.
I had to find my way to a one-hundred-meter tall Beguru tree in the Bakassi Peninsula, an area under territorial dispute between Nigeria and Cameroon.
And so began my preparation for the great change to happen in one year…
The first thing I did was to call my workplace, to tell them I wouldn’t be able to work for them anymore.
“What are you saying all of a sudden? You’ve been doing so well so far, so why now? Has it been tough on you? This job is always hard in the beginning, but once you build up enough experience and skills, your pay will also go up. Look at Mr. Seo. He’s doing very well.”
My sudden request had taken my boss quite aback.
The factory I worked at was small, with only fourteen employees.
The work was hard and made it difficult to find additional help. No matter how hard we tried to employ more workers, we could never fill up the positions. Still, I faithfully stayed and worked for two years.
“I’m sorry. Some personal issues came up and I won’t be able to come in anymore. You won’t need to pay me this month’s wages. I have to go now.”
“Hey! Hey! Jiwon! Lee Jiwon!”
I hung up the phone even while he called my name.
The money I had already saved up to now was enough.
It didn’t matter if I didn’t receive this month’s paycheck. Rather, paychecks and wages didn’t matter at all to me anymore.
Something more important than money was waiting for me.
I grew up as an orphan, and after spending my childhood at an orphanage, I went straight into the military after high school.
I didn’t study well while l lived at the orphanage. I thought that as an orphan, I didn’t have much of a right or privilege to study, and ended up mixing in with a bad crowd. After I became an adult, I found out that I didn’t have much to offer society.
All I had of use was my somewhat healthy body.
And so, when I was drafted into the military, I naturally joined up with the Army. Under the orphanage director’s advice, I volunteered to be the acting NCO when I became a corporal and worked my way up to the rank of sergeant.
And so, I spent eight years in the army, before being discharged with the rank of staff sergeant.
It wasn’t like I had any special talents. I made it my goal to stay in the army for as long as I could, but I wasn’t really a favorite of my superiors, and the chance of a promotion was next to dismal. Tired of walking on eggshells, I sort of naturally let myself be discharged as a staff sergeant.
By that time, I was already twenty-nine, and all I knew how to do was what the army taught me.
The pay I received while in the army ended up just stacking up in my account, but wasn’t really enough for me to start my own business. I ended up working at the factory, which was why I had plenty of money in my account.
Once I had finished with the factory, the thought that I no longer had any physical ties with anyone felt bittersweet. That’s how constricted I felt human relationships were.
“Whatever. I don’t have anything more to do with that place now.” I chased away any weak feelings. “I have one year from now. I have to try no matter the outcome.”
Everything had gone according to plan. Using most of the money had saved up, I made a reconnaissance trip to the Beguru tree in the Bakassi Peninsula, where the first ascension took place.
Because the land was under territorial dispute, there were many problems down the road, but I didn’t have to pinch pennies. I bought a car, a gun, and a guide to take me where I needed to go efficiently.
“So this is it.”
The Beguru tree was larger than I had imagined.
I observed the surroundings. This place would either become my path to victory or my biggest crutch. I absorbed everything my eyes took in.
After I returned from the tree, my lifestyle remained the same.
After a restful sleep, I would lightly exercise and eat at a protein-filled meal and nap. After that, I would work on my stamina and train at the local hapkido and kendo dojos.
I may have leisurely spent eight years in the army, but now I was relentless in learning Special Forces combat and had no trouble in training myself.
And on July 1st, 2023, I was on a plane heading towards the Beguru tree I had scouted out.
When I arrived at the tree, I set up a tent nearby to live out the remaining days.
There were sixteen days left from now until that fateful day when the terrible change would happen. As the days passed, worry began to creep up on me.
Over the past year, all of my human relationships fell away. Rather, I got rid of them.
I had thoroughly isolated myself, and wondered how I would spend my life if the change wasn’t going to happen.
Just coming halfway here, I had spent fifty million won. Most of it went towards transportation and hiring seven heavily armed bodyguards for a week.
This last part of the trip cost another thirty-five million won. I didn’t work for a whole year. If…if… on the 17th, nothing happened…
“Haha. Is suicide all I have left?”
The thought kept circling in my head. I kept thinking what I would do if it didn’t happen. It would just end up with me being insane…
It would just end with me having thrown a fit for the past year…
Finally, the fateful day arrived.
It was July 17th, 2013 in Korea. And I heard it.
Ah! Can you all hear me? Inhabitants of Test World 1455. The test is now over.
In the back of my mind, I wished I really was insane, but I really heard it again.
The annoyed, demon-like voice… coming from the empty sky!