Chapter 43: Chapter 42: First Meeting With Sunbin Group’s Chairman, Song Daechul, Part V
“So, what would you like to know?”
“Could I answer that instead, Jiwon?” President Song Myungsoo asked me in his father’s stead.
“I’ll be honest. It’s something that I’ve, no, we’ve, all been curious about. We’re not exactly sure what you know, but the chairman and I pooled the group’s and the Planning committee’s resources and researched everything we could for over a week. We left no stone unturned and investigated everything, no matter how minor. But we still don’t know what this change is about.
“We know that there’s a stat menu, a skill menu, an equipment menu, and that levels exist. We even found out about the Store that is supposed to sell items. But we don’t know how to increase our levels, or how to get golden rings.” Song Myungsoo took a sip of his tea before starting again.
“We’ve decided to accept this strange reality. We understand that this is our life now, but where do we go from here? If we take into account the levels and Stores, then this system wants us to grow stronger like one would in a video game. For what reason, we have no idea. What choice do we have but to grow stronger, the way whoever made this happen intended? I don’t think that you know the reason this is all happening. I would just like you to share with us how to adapt to this situation, and help us get started.”
Everyone nodded agreement to the president’s speech.
I could see clearly how the Sunbin Group became so successful over the years.
“Hmm… I don’t know why the world has become like this, either. But as President Song just mentioned, I can only tell you one thing you must do. You must grow stronger!” Everyone in the room watched me as I spoke.
“From now on, only the strong will have things. Only the strong can speak their minds, and only the strong can act on their whims. The voices of the weak will fall on deaf ears. It will be another infinite race to the top. The only way to get to the top is to have strength! You must force your way to the top. It doesn’t matter if you’re a judge, a professor, a politician, or man with money; you just need to force your way through everyone else.”
The only way to get yourself away from everyone else was to just force your way out. You didn’t need an education or wealth; all you needed is strength! You had to be higher leveled than anyone else; you had to have better items than anyone else.
Sure, you had to be wealthy to have items, but that wealth wasn’t measured by how much money or land you had, or how many buildings you owned. Now, you needed golden rings!
If you wanted a lot of golden rings, you have to hunt in high level hunting grounds which could net you plenty of golden rings and items. Basically, it all went back to having strength.
“We will enter a new era where the strong will have no choice but to feed on the weak. If you fall behind, you will be left behind. If you don’t want that to happen to you, you must become strong enough to prevent that yourself.”
“How do we obtain that kind of strength?”
“President Song, you said it yourself. We all have a Stat Menu and an Equipment Menu. You must level yourself up. How? I’m sure you must have expected this, but you must earn experience points from hunting monsters to increase your levels. You can even find some items on the way.”
“There are monsters?” the chairman asked.
“Jiwon, the Sungbin Group definitely has guessed that there may be monsters. We believed that killing each other couldn’t have been the way to gain experience points, so we believed that there should be monsters. But we haven’t found any monsters. We didn’t find anything that remotely resembled a monster.”
“You’re right. You shouldn’t have found any monsters. Open public profile.” I decided to show them my profile rather than try to explain it to them a hundred times.
[Name: Lee Jiwon
Level: 32 Death count: 0]
“He’s level 32!”
The members of the Sunbin Group tried everything they could to increase their levels. They experimented many ways, even killing animals, and consulting and experimenting with a gaming company.
The head of security, Han Kyungchul, had the suspicion that they had to kill other devas to gain levels, and secretly ordered one of his men who had become a deva to kill him. He even knew about the death penalty.
He had already committed suicide to see if devas really resurrected upon death, and found out that his stats were two points lower than everyone else’s. But he had to find something out about experience points and volunteered to die once more. Unfortunately, it was to no avail. Han knew that there had to be another way.
When Chairman Song found out about what Han had done, Han received an earful. But Han knew that it was out of worry, and only offered his apologies.
The members of the Sunbin Group knew that they couldn’t wait around like everyone else. There was no other way to prepare for the future, and they did all they could to level themselves up. Their search yielded no results.
“I’ve always held the Sunbin Group in high regard. You look out for the little man and reward hard work. I have every intention of telling you what I know.” Sooner or later, people would find the locations of the dungeons. How could they not, when the entrances were so massive. Sure, they were all located in hard-to-reach places, but I would give it a couple of weeks before reports of the entrances came out on the news.
The Sunbin Group wasn’t one to let such an advantage go.
Back then, after an adaptation period of eight months, monsters began appearing in the fields, and the spells on dungeon entrances disappeared. Those with scan skills were able to reveal the locations of the dungeons.
Once people found out about the dungeon bonuses, more and more dungeons were discovered within four months.
If the Sunbin Group could control all five of South Korea’s dungeons and start leveling up now, then it could form a guild much stronger than the guild of the past.
“Are…are you serious?”
“Yes. Just promise me one thing.”
“Of course! Whatever you want.”
“I want your priority to be to protect the weak and create a place where everyone can live in peace. Not just for devas, but for mortal humans, as well.” I couldn’t do that, nor did I want to.
To be honest, I still had the mindset that I had to take care of my needs first and foremost. But I guess I still had a conscience.
I was afraid that karma would get back at me if I kept looking out for myself after letting me return to the past. What if fate sent me back in time to do some good, and all this time I’d been doing the exact opposite? Something in the back of my mind kept asking me that.
At first I thought about asking them to fork over any good items they found later on.
The members right now needed whatever help they could get, so they would probably accept such a proposition. But there was a high possibility that the future guild wasn’t going to easily fork over a Rank 8 or 9 item that easily.
Handing over a Rank 8 or higher item like that wasn’t generous or nice; it was stupid and thoughtless. Making such a proposition with Chairman Song was volatile; it risked putting our relationship in danger. They would have the same thoughts, as well.
I might as well make myself their enemy right now by being greedy and asking for Rank 8 or higher items in return for my help.
I didn’t want to needlessly make trouble, and decided that it was more of a gain if I could make them a little more generous.
If I can’t do it, then I might as well make someone else do it! Besides, the Sunbin Group is more than qualified to do so!
“Is…that really all you want?” Everyone in the room looked at me in surprise, not expecting such a request.
“Yes. It’s just that…if the Sunbin Group could become strong in the future, I just would like the same help in return.” I really was a Philistine. I wanted to coolly say ‘Yes, that’s all I need. You don’t need to do anything more” but I just couldn’t bring myself to say it. The way the chairman asked was as if he was wondering if there really wasn’t anything else I wanted.
They were definitely going to become a large guild anyway, and even if I didn’t ask them for a strong item later on, I could still have them help me out in the future.
The Sunbin Guild in the past was one of South Korea’s strongest guilds and one of the strongest in all of Asia. But with my help, the guild could actually become Asia’s number one guild. I could get so much more out of them if that were the case, whether it was items or golden rings.
Hah…I’m so materialistic. I knew that I could get so much back from the Sunbin Guild with the value of my information.
It wasn’t too much to ask for proper compensation. I was really average in my past life. There was no way an average person could pretend to be open-minded.
I gathered my thoughts that kept changing every second.
The eyes of Chairman Song and the others twinkled at my request. To be honest, I felt uncomfortable under their gazes.
To the Sunbin Group, this was a debt that they could easily pay back.
They were even prepared to hand over company shares, depending on the value of the information. But they never expected Lee Jiwon’s request. Reward hard work! And since he wanted their help in future, that meant that they would continue to work together. Who knows, maybe they could keep working for another ten years!
Chairman Song always paid his affiliate partners back in full and on time, even if he had to do it in cash. On the other hand, the president and other board members were more inclined to push their deadlines as far back as they could.
I didn’t make that proposition because I felt bad for them; I did it because I wanted them to deal with it and not me. But I felt a little guilty when their eyes lit up. But I wasn’t going to back out of it now, the deal was still in my favor.
I cleared my throat to rid myself of the slight embarrassment I was feeling.
“There’s an eight-month grace period for people to adapt. After those eight months, field monsters will begin to appear around the world. Once the monsters appear, all of society will plunge into chaos. Police and military won’t be around to protect or help anyone. Of course, we don’t have to wait the eight months. Because there is limited information on devas, society is still able to function for now, but as I’m sure you all know, people all around will start scrambling to become devas and stop living their normal lives. People will be digging through mountains, oceans, gulches, everywhere, looking for Don Gates.”
Everyone nodded in agreement to what I just said. I was sure that people of their caliber understood what I meant.
“Once those eight months are up, monsters will begin appearing, while the world plunges further into chaos. That marks the beginning of the Otadolon stage the voice spoke of. Monsters will appear and begin to take over human lands for themselves. Many people will die. Of course, the monsters won’t appear in mass numbers in the beginning. Many people would die before they could become devas, if that were the case. Only devas can kill these monsters. That is the only way to earn experience points, items, and golden rings.”
“Wait! Aren’t you level 32? You just said that monsters will start appearing in eight months, so how did you reach level 32?” interjected the Planning committee head, Park Manho.
“It was dungeons,” I replied, knowing that I would have to tell them about them anyway.
“Yes. I found a dungeon and hunted the monsters inside. There are five dungeons in all of South Korea and I have already found all five of them. As such, should all of you set out to hunt in those dungeons, you can begin to gain experience and level up like you want. You can even begin to find golden rings and if you’re lucky, find items.”
“Are…are you serious?”
“Could I lie about my level?” I returned.
“Hahaha. No, I suppose you can’t,” replied Chairman Song with a laugh.
“To be honest, you probably would have been able to find the dungeons without my telling you. The entrances to these dungeons are massive, at least five meters tall and four meters wide. It’d be weird if you didn’t find out about them,” I said, fully aware that they’d find out once they saw the entrances for themselves.
“Haha. Still, this is really great information. But… are dungeons easy to find?” Chairman Song asked a question that no one really thought of. Everyone else was only thinking about dungeons themselves. The chairman wanted to know how exactly I found these dungeons.
“I’m not trying to brag or anything, but trying to find a dungeon before field monsters spawn is like finding a needle in a desert the size of Russia.” I definitely wasn’t trying to exaggerate here.
The chairman peered into my eyes and I met his gaze.
“Yes, sir. I’m positive.”
“Well, if that’s what you say, I’m sure it’s true. I feel I could believe you even if you told me that the sky was green. But… it seems to me that there’s something for finding a dungeon before anyone else.” The chairman threw another question out of left field.
I didn’t mention anything of the sort, but it really threw me off guard for him to be able to come up with that question. This must be how he was able to build such a successful company.
“There are three types of dungeons: low, mid and high grade. If you look at your stat menu, you’ll notice there are also five types of stats: STR, AGI, VIT, WIL, and INT. Finding a low-grade dungeon grants you 5 stat points to each stat, a mid-grade grants 7 points each, and a high-grade grants 10 points each. This only happens if you are the first to discover a dungeon.”
Sooner or later, everyone on Earth was going to find out. This information was pretty much worth nothing.
There was no point in hiding information that was going to be revealed in a few months’ time. I couldn’t lie if I wanted to maintain a relationship with the Group. I knew I had to speak the truth for the time being.
“And Jeju?” asked Song Haein, after listening all this time.
“Yes. I went to Jeju Island to look for a dungeon there.”
“That confidence you have that you’ll find dungeons during the eight months. It seems you are much more than we could ever imagine.”
“…” I made no reaction to the chairman’s statement. But I’m sure that made it more obvious to everyone in the room that he wasn’t far from the truth.
“Since you’ve already found all of the dungeons in Korea, what’s your next move?”
“Haha. I see. Good.” The chairman seemed pleased, as if we were talking about him.
“Then could you tell us the locations of the dungeons that you have found?”
“That was the reason I brought up dungeons in the first place, sir.” There was so much more important information; what reason did I have to hide the locations of the dungeons? Besides, I couldn’t enter any more dungeons for another twenty-five days. I wasn’t going to hide them.
I reached out to the table to grab the fountain pen and piece of paper in front of me, and began to write…