The Novel's Villain - Chapter 86
23. Peaceful International Competition (1)
Ed was a hero cadet. After drawing the Holy Sword Estran, which was said to have been blessed by the Goddess, he began his journey to become a true hero. His handsome looks and passionate personality befitted such a path. To become a hero, he needed the great achievement of clearing the maze. He formed a party with a wizard, an archer, and a priest and climbed from the bottom, step by step.
‘I’m sure it’s going to be okay now.’
Unlike Ed, who had the Holy Sword Estran, his party was still full of novices. Since they were all full of potential, he thought it would be a great help on the journey to clear the labyrinth. He just needed to help them along.
“Don’t worry. Nothing’s special with this dungeon.”
Ed smiled refreshingly. All the party members nodded and smiled in response, feeling comforted. Ed and the novice adventurers’ party finally entered the dungeon one step higher. The raid had already been completed with the oldest dungeon near the village, but it was good to gain experience. Ed, a skilled aspiring hero, entered the dungeon with his party members.
It was a Poison Slime Dungeon. If they cleared this one, they could advance to the intermediate-level dungeon.
“It’s a cute-looking slime, but it’s pretty powerful. So be careful!”
He said so and went ahead. The slime looked pretty cute, but Ed didn’t underestimate it. That was the mindset to become a proper hero and warrior. The party members believed in him like that. They unfolded their map and proceeded cautiously.
Ed tilted his head. Something was off. It should be easy to understand since it was drilled straight, but now the passage was strangely meandering. It felt so ominous.
“Ed, is this the right place?”
“Huh? That box over there…”
The wizard approached the box. No one held him back because there couldn’t be a trap in a novice dungeon. Yet, when he opened the box…
The box opened and immediately attacked the wizard. A bunch of tentacles spewed out of the box, turning into a bizarre monster with huge teeth. Ed hastily pulled the wizard to safety. Something was wrong.
A slime with disgusting eyes approached with its sharp tentacles. Ed drew his Holy Sword and rushed towards it. He managed to kill the slime, but the atmosphere only grew weirder. He couldn’t think of this as a novice dungeon.
“It’s okay! It’s slow, so stay calm…!”
It was the moment when Ed said that, the archer stepped on something while retreating.
There was a sound of a machine running.
A huge lump of metal began to roll from the side. It was huge enough to make the dungeon reverberate.
Ed’s party began to run away with all their might. They ran into the depths of the dungeon; they ran frantically, avoiding the metal. There was a bridge in front of them.
As Ed and his party reached the center of the bridge, all the light around them disappeared. Even the wizard’s light magic suddenly dissipated. It was pitch-black.
“It’s okay. It’s okay! C-calm down!”
Ed comforted everyone and raised his Holy Sword Estran. White light emanated from the blade, relieving some of the pressure they felt. Ed looked behind him to reassure the party members. The mouths of wizard, archer, and priest were wide open, their complexions pale.
“Ah, ah, ah…”
“Why, why? W-what’s going on?”
The archer pointed behind Ed with a trembling finger. He slowly turned his head.
Everywhere around them was filled with red glowing eyes. Ed looked around while slowly lifting it with the Holy Sword. Bizarrely distorted skeletons were attached to the wall. The skeletons had a bunch of tentacles attached to them, like intestines.
They couldn’t go back the way they came, as skeletons were standing at the entrance of the bridge. They brought up sharp sickles to the rope.
Slowly, one at a time.
The skeletons rattled. It was as if they enjoyed watching them in horror.
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They fell when all the ropes were cut off. Before he lost consciousness, Ed seemed to see something written in red. What awaited beneath that basement was hell itself.
* * *
The Demon Realm became more peaceful, but Jin-woo became busier. The most urgent task at hand was to keep the demons from starving. They were living very hungry lives, just like the former Arina. He had to help them grow on their own, like Elonti. After all, Jin-woo was the new owner of the Demon Realm.
For now, Arina instructed the chiefs of each tribe in the Demon Realm or high-ranking demons to pick out what they could do well. Arina held a large-scale business briefing in the Demon Realm as ordered by Jin-woo. There, she presented the vision of earning dimensional gold coins on the gigantic planet ruled by Jin-woo.
The General Manager’s training allowed them to enter the JW Gate jurisdiction or sell the goods online in connection with them. With the Internet in the Sanctuary, it was possible if Arina played an intermediary role.
Jin-woo remained in Sarah Vriac’s estate, now called the Golden Holy City. He was in a huge and colorful room, with Arina sitting next to him.
Jin-woo was listening to the demons’ business plan. The chieftains and high-ranking demons were waiting outside the room with numbered tickets, and one by one, they came in and presented their business plan. When Arina gave a signal and opened the door, a demon woman with No. 11 entered. She was dressed modestly for a demon; her dress was not revealing at all but rather exuded an elegant vibe.
She was a great beauty that was rare among the demons.
“My name is Lilith Foruna. It is an infinite honor to be able to meet you like this.”
She politely greeted Jin-woo and sat down in front of him. Jin-woo looked at the document with her personal information.
She was the Succubus Queen, though she seemed very different from the existing succubus that Jin-woo thought. She once helped with Arina’s video, and she was also a craftsman who made the best potions in the Demon World. She didn’t appear in the original novel. However, there were rumors that the original author had posted something rated 19+ in the past. Unfortunately, Jin-woo didn’t read it.
Jin-woo looked through the documents again.
“Adult products and collecting vital force…I think I need an explanation.”
Lilith got up and pulled something out of her arms. Jin-woo looked flinched slightly. of adult products that seemed to need to be censored.
Clink, clink, click!
“These are Foruna adult products that give beneficial effects to both men and women without straining the body.”
“Depending on the type, it has the effect of treating infertility for men and women, and it solves fatal erectile dysfunction in middle-aged people without side effects. Lord Digent, who used to be the Demon King, also used it. And this is…”
It was said that it contained all the know-how accumulated since the Demon Realm was created. Its strength performance to suit all tastes. The extreme ones were put in a warehouse, but it was said that the entire warehouse disappeared when the Emperor of Maze met its end.
After hearing the explanation, Jin-woo thought that it was really lucky that those things disappeared. They were very dangerous artifacts to disclose to the outside. Products that could easily change one’s taste…
‘I don’t think it’s appropriate to sell them in JW jurisdictions…’
Jin-woo thought it would be better to get an official license and sell them online.
“Well, what about collecting vital force?”
“Vital force is the most important ingredient in producing potions. There is a limit to potion production because there is a lack of pure vital force in the Demon Realm.”
It was said that the potion production had dropped a lot these days. Other things could be solved with dimensional gold coins, but pure vital forces were hard to find.
Jin-woo listened to Lilith’s explanation. She said she wanted to join forces with the Incubus and make their way to Earth like Arina. It was the perfect job for them, as they could absorb the energy radiated from popularity, passion, and cheers and turn it into a vital force. In the Demon Realm, they used to be despised for dancing or singing, but not on Earth.
Lilith was also the one who gave Arina intensive training. It was said that she taught her everything from vocals to dancing.
‘It’ll be fine since Elonti Entertainment is fully established.’
Elonti Entertainment was huge, but only Ella, Heo-young, and Arina belonged to it. He thought it would be okay to recruit Lilith as a trainer.
“Let’s review it.”
It was a project worth considering. Lilith gave the items described came out as he met the demons. Callarice’s tribe also came, bringing the Prophecy Cafe plan. There were quite a few things that were worth saving.
‘The demons are more sincere than expected, huh?’
Suddenly, a thought occurred to him. He thought they could proceed slowly, one by one through Yoo-na. After finishing the schedule in the Demon World, Jin-woo stopped at the Sanctuary for a while before returning to Earth. The Maze was still immersed in the game.
“Are you having fun?”
[It’s fun. Friend. Thanks.]
It was also possible to express its thought through the black tentacles. The Maze was playing games that Jin-woo didn’t know, and there were some very dangerous things. One showed a title of ‘Imprisoned Goddess.’ It was a game that required the user to be at least 19 years old.
‘Well…it’s old, and it’s only a game, so it’ll be fine.’
After all, the Maze was ancient. Then the core shook as if trying to spit out something stuck in its throat.
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Something poured out of the core.
A white sword was seen among the scrap metal blocks the Maze sneezed out.
[A+] Holy Sword Estran
A sword blessed by the Goddess. It is known as a sword that can create heroes, sent as a treasure from Heaven. Only those with a pure soul can lift it.
*[A] Goddess’ Blessing
It was a Holy Sword that appeared in the original novel, so it was questionable why the Maze spat it out. As Jin-woo looked at the Maze, it was absorbed in playing the game again.
‘I should return this.’
It was a good sword, but it had something to do with the original story, so he had to return it to Middle-World anyway.
‘Didn’t it say that an unclean person can’t lift it?’
Only those worthy of being heroes could lift it. Since he had to return it, Jin-woo grabbed the sword.
It felt so easy. He could hardly feel the weight; it was as if he was holding a feather. A small scream sounded out, and the white sword began to turn black.
[S] Corrupted Demon Sword Estran
The Incarnation of Evil and the Emperor of Gold corrupted the Goddess’ blessing. The corrupted Demon Sword Estran has more destructive power than the original Holy Sword.
*[-S] Power of Corruption
Could it be restored to its original state? It would be difficult with enhancement or alchemy. Degurron, who lived in JW Gate, seemed likely to know something. Jin-woo put Estran into the subspace first.
‘It’s not that big of a deal…’
If it couldn’t be restored, it seemed like it could be replaced with another sword. With that in mind, he told the Maze to take some rest and returned to Earth.
Many people were looking for Jin-woo even on Earth. Before the international competition, the Knights had been scheduled for training, but Jin-woo didn’t respond to the call due to such training wasn’t helpful. Choi Hee-yeon also didn’t participate, given the shock she received from the Demon Realm.
Jin-woo couldn’t grow through regular training because he had reached the Emperor’s level beyond humanity. He had to accomplish a great achievement worthy of growth.
‘I think I should take a moderately active role.’
He intended to mix with the Knights, participate in international competitions, and receive a decent grade. And when Earth’s affairs were somewhat resolved, he intended to focus on the Middle-World or another dimension. The Middle-World, in particular, was a huge place influenced by Heaven.
‘I should get along with the angels.’
The angels were as good as the elves. There was also someone from Heaven that could be called the original protagonist’s main heroine. It seemed that if he got along with the angels, he would prevent disaster and maintain peace in the Middle-World. As Jin-woo was thinking so, shocking news arrived.
[Injured during Korean Knight’s Field Training!]
[Severe Power Loss! National Crisis!]
Such articles came up. It was news that all the selected Knights who had left for field training in the dungeon of an International Water Gate were injured. If it was a mere injury, it could be recovered only by the healers, but there seems to be a mental problem. It wasn’t in the original story. Although the proportion of the Korean Knights was very small, it was explained that all of them participated normally.
It was known that high-ranking Knights also participated in this field training. It was said that the factions were united, and they had the greatest heyday in the history of the Korean Knights Templar, but it was said that they were all blown away in one go during their training.
“What the hell is going on?”
“I heard they need long-term psychotherapy. We’ve taken data from the inside of the hospital room. Would you like to see it?”
When Jin-woo nodded, Yoo-na played the video through the laptop in front of him. He saw a Knight lying in the hospital room with a haggard look. A member of the Association approached him.
– Sir Kwak Han-seong?
Kwak Han-seong, a well-known Knight, vomited into the bin next to him. His eyes were red as if he hadn’t slept in days. The healers and medical staff were standing by in case of a seizure.
– What happened?
– S-sobs…something in the dark maze, one by one…the huge green one moved toward me. Ahh! No! Don’t do that! Keaaargh! Not me! No!
– H-he’s going into mana shock!
-G-give him a sedative!
Things turned very quickly. Kwak Han-seong was the last Knight to be discovered by the rescue team. When he was found, all his equipment and clothes were said to have been removed.
It wasn’t supposed to be a dangerous place as a suitable dungeon for training. Although there were no fatalities, it was said that the aftereffects were severe in each patient. Fortunately, treatment was showing improvement, but participating in the competition would be too much.
‘Kwak Han-seong is an ace who has participated in international competitions three times…’
He was a man who went through hell. But, how could his mind be broken down like that? Jin-woo turned off the video and looked at the article. The official position of the Association was announced, but the situation was quite serious.
“I heard that the training in other countries has also been canceled. They said something was wrong with Gates around the world.”
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“Do you have any guesses?”
Jin-woo was lost in thought for a moment. Just then, an banner appeared next to the Internet window.
[Dark Blood Dungeon! Everything you think of despair! Try it now!]
The moment he saw the , a certain scene flashed through his mind. The Maze was immersed in the game day and night. It played several games, but the most representative one was Dark Blood Dungeon, and it was also playing various 19+ rated games. Jin-woo even gave it several tablets and laptops as gifts because he felt sorry for it.
The dungeons at the Gates were also connected to the Maze.
“No, I don’t know either.”
He had a hunch, but it was an excuse. Jin-woo gulped and said so.
Yoo-na just nodded at the sight of Young Master, who seemed to be hiding something. It was difficult for her to ask. After all, he had been carrying something like the Black Flame Dragon. The Young Master never showed weakness.
‘He must have been considerate of my weakness.’
Yoo-na thought so. Perhaps the others felt the same way. Yoo-na nodded and answered her phone as it began to ring.
“Yes, President. Yes, Yes. I see. All right.”
After a moment, she hung up and looked at Jin-woo.
“Was it the President of the Association?”
“Yes, it is.”
“What did he say?”
Jin-woo asked as he folded his laptop.
“He said that you would become the captain of Korean Knights.”
The list of participants in the competition had already been submitted and couldn’t be changed. The president had no choice but to select a candidate, and Jin-woo was the most popular and capable Knights among the first team. The plan to act in moderation had already failed.
Jin-woo became the youngest captain ever. It was a world record.
* * *
As Jin-woo was carrying out his captain, the day of the opening ceremony of the international competition finally arrived.
Although the international competition was a festival for people worldwide, it had the opposite side of being the Knights’ grave. Unlike the previous competition, this consider. Jin-woo’s becoming the youngest captain drew a lot of attention, but something even bigger happened.
The Japanese government and the Association of Competent People offered a living sacrifice to summon the Demon King. It wasn’t known who sent it, but evidence and photos flowed into the Federation, and the Japanese Association was disbanded by the Federation. Dang Xiao Zhen claimed that the Demon King incident in China must also have been Japan’s scheme, which was a persuasive argument. There were traces of a continuous affair with the Demon King to support it, proving their betrayal of all mankind. In addition, there were claims that Japan was responsible for this Gate incident.
The Japanese government complained of injustice, but on the contrary, it only had the opposite effect. Jin-woo just tilted his head at the news. Japan had the blame fully shifted to them. Anyway, the international competition had to be held, so close to Japan, Korea decided to host it. There was no problem as the infrastructure was already sufficiently in place.
‘It’s the same as being held at the International Water Gate, but….’
A large island was formed around the International Water Gate. It was a place where only the rules set by the Federation were applied. There was no such thing as human rights.
Jin-woo came to the arena to participate in the opening ceremony. All the knights of the countries participating in the international competition participated in the opening ceremony, with audiences filling the arena to watch. It was a fever that easily surpassed the World Cup or Olympics. The venue of the event was being broadcast live all over the world.
Jin-woo looked at the Knights. They were all familiar, including Choi Hee-yeon. They were the Knights who set up death flags during the Chinese crisis. They looked at Jin-woo with burning eyes. It was very bothersome.
Choi Hee-yeon handed over a Knight’s uniform, symbolizing the captain. It was said that every Knight dreamed of participating in an international competition wearing this, but Jin-woo sighed slightly. He never wanted to hold such a troublesome position.
“Captain! You’re the only one who suits that uniform!”
“Don’t feel pressured!”
The Knights said so without knowing how he felt.
‘Everything’s gonna be fine, right?’
The Demon Realm was peaceful, and Japan was permanently expelled from the international competition, so there was nothing to worry about. Jin-woo nodded and soldiered on as he participated in the opening ceremony. The international competition was nothing compared to what he had experienced so far.
The Seoul Arena Stadium was full of spectators. A festival was taking place outside the Arena Stadium, crowded with foreign tourists partaking in the festivities. Visiting the JW Cultural Center and coming to the stadium had become a tourist attraction.
The opening ceremony was, of course, broadcast on the airwaves.
[Yes! We are now at the Arena Stadium, where the opening ceremony of the International Competition for the Competent People will be held. I’m the caster, Kim Sung-jin, and next Sir Heo Jin-han will also greet all of you.]
[Haha! Hello. I’m Heo Jin-han.]
[The War of the Stars, organized by the International Federation of Competent People and hosted by the Korean Association of Competent People, is about to begin! The atmosphere is already heating up. Many people are indeed worried while praying for Korea to have a good fight.]
Heo Jin-han nodded.
[Yes, but I believe that Captain Lee Jin-woo, the pride of our Republic of Korea and the hero of the world, will do well and act wisely. I think it could be a blessing in disguise if he were mentally armed with the desperate determination to save our country.]
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[That’s right. The fighting spirit of Korea! Isn’t it? Oh! Yes! The moment I say that the opening ceremony begins.]
The opening ceremony was sponsored on a large scale by Frontline Groups, and technical support was provided by G&P. A very vivid hologram was played from the artifact installed in the center of the Arena Stadium.
The opening ceremony finally began!