Declaration of a Fraudulent Relationship Chapter 2

Chapter 2

Ten minutes later, the seal engraving of the ox emitted a faint glow.

As soon as the blurry light transformed into a human shape, someone rushed into the center of the engraving.

Whoosh! The wind sounded as the air split.. 

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<An Attack cannot be made in this situation.>

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The powerful attack—strong enough to appear as a bluish blur—failed with a simple notification window. After getting completely out of the way, Rhee Mujin saw the notification and quick-wittedly retreated. Without the system’s invincibility, he would have been sprawled out as a corpse without knowing the reason why. 

“Who the heck are you?” 

He extracted a rod from his inventory space and equipped it in the blink of an eye. 

It’s a pity that he had trouble seeing properly because of the occasional sandstorm blocking his field of vision. As he looked forward with his eyes full of vigilance, the other person took half a step forward. He couldn’t see the person’s face properly as it was covered by a mask. But, from his posture to the gleam in his eyes, the frustration the other felt did not seem ordinary. Rhee Mujin quickly identified the person.

“Ah, are you the challenger who met General Ja?”

“You must have had a pleasant time meeting the ox in my stead.”

“No, well…it wasn’t that pleasant.”

General Chook’s trial was not as simple as Rhee Mujin had thought. After trying and failing to grab the crystal from above General Chook’s head, and dying for his efforts, Rhee Mujin realized that his first attack had only connected due to luck.

It was not a monster designed to be defeated just through physical strength or attack power. The standard tactic was to prevent General Chook’s movement by using the surrounding terrain in order to obtain the crystal. It was a relief that it was not a field 1 but a dungeon. The attack pattern itself was not difficult, so it was easy to clear after that.

“That’s all you have to say after hindering someone’s quest?”

“It’s the same with me: you blocked me by going through the rat. Why are you spouting nonsense? You could have just skipped over the ox and went to the tiger.”

“I can no longer go in through another seal engraving.”

This was another new fact. Once the seal engraving was entered, it would automatically confirm the sequence.

“Is that so? Then you should go through, now.”

He shrugged his shoulders and stepped aside. When Rhee Mujin relaxed his attack stance, conveying that he would no longer obstruct the other’s path, the challenger 2 approached with hostility as he cautiously touched the pattern. Rhee Mujin turned his head away in expectation of a sudden burst of light.

“……..”

However the engraving was strangely too calm for him to have entered. I don’t think it was the same as when I entered. Curiously, he looked around again. The man was staring at him like he was going to tear him to death in five pieces.

“………What is it?”

 “It didn’t work.”

“What?”

“As expected, I have to kill you.”

What a mean temper. You’re just going to kill me and run? When it seemed as if the man couldn’t be reasoned with, Rhee Mujin fixed his grip on his staff.

Suddenly, a sentence said by General Chook passed through his mind.

‘It’s not bad to walk as two on a path that’s difficult for one.’

Ah, did he mean this?

Rhee Mujin calculated for a bit in his head, immediately moved the weapon to his left hand carelessly, and held out his right hand.

“Well, I’m sorry about that. But your quest has not yet been completely ruined.”

“What?”

“General Chook said this: It’s better for there to be two challengers than one.”

He hadn’t actually said those exact words but roughly had that kind of nuance. Rhee Mujin muttered, twisting the facts.

That slight fib was only possible because he was the only one who knew the truth.

“Invite me to a party 3. The two of us can progress on together.”

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〈 ‘An unnamed collaborator’ has invited you to join a party.〉

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〈You accepted the party invite! 〉

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〈Your name is private, so you will be shown as an ‘unnamed collaborator’ to the other party. Use character information to change settings. 〉

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Rhee Mujin grumbled about the dual anonymity party, saying that no one had trust anymore in South Korea…though he wasn’t in any position to make those comments.

Rhee Mujin was a little popular now, due to his extreme character/personality and inversely proportional ranking. When he was open with his nickname, there would often be hit and run PVP conflicts and other cumbersome messes. Thus whenever a quest required him to frequent the fields, he tended to keep his name private. Besides that, there wasn’t much reason to keep such a name private, so Rhee Mujin assumed that the other had a similar situation. ‘No wonder, the attack he made when Rhee Mujin came out wasn’t ordinary.’.

“What’s your class?” 

Since they were in the same party, Rhee Mujin asked out of courtesy. The other person remained silent, on guard, as if he disliked answering and was quiet for a long time; he barely squeezed out an answer from his mouth.

“Swordsman.”

“I know. To be honest, I roughly guessed it when you were wielding the sword earlier.”

“…….”

The atmosphere became very tense.

“Do you want me to tell you about my class?”

“No need”

Rhee Mujin shrugged at the cold answer.

Not only was the challenger’s name private, his face was also covered by a plain black mask, which only revealed his eyes. Other types of masks were also available in Celestial Wind. There were masks depicting foxes, rabbits, and puppies alongside parody masks that were made through the collaborations of different companies. Due to Celestial Wind’s rules, once a player confirmed their character customization, they were no longer  allowed to change it. It wasn’t like players couldn’t retouch a few aspects as it was a game; they could modify it a little….but…not to the point that others would be unable to recognize the original form.

That meant that when someone first makes a character, they have to be sure of what kind of character they wanted to make. That was the only drawback in Celestial Wind.

As a result, although masks were used by users as a type of costume individualization, they were also often used to protect their identities. Especially for the long-time rankers who were known for one thing or another: a majority of the players knew their faces.

“Let’s move on and quickly finish this.”

Rhee Mujin took the lead toward the tiger seal engraving they had seen earlier. He noticed the challenger was a bit hesitant, but he could hear the sound of the other person following behind. It was a good idea to move forward as a party. He wouldn’t have to have to worry about getting stabbed in the back. It was a basic fact that it was impossible for party members to attack each other on the field. 

After entering the third engraving, they arrived before a general wearing the head of a tiger. He was not as big as General Chook, but he was more powerful than the previous general.

[What’s this? General Ja and General Chook sent both of you?]

This general was able to grasp the situation faster than General Chook. As expected, the king of the mountain is different? 4 Rhee Mujin spoke bluntly with his thoughts filled with prejudice.

“What do we need to do?”

[A bit rude, but that can be fixed.]

What kind of AI is this scary? Without missing a beat with his response, a name, ‘General In’ appeared above the tiger head. 

[My, General In’s, trial is….]

💔

The challenger was better at the game than Rhee Mujin had thought. Although Rhee Mujin wished that the other had not caught his ankles 5, the challenger had above average physicality and game sense. Even though his tone was uncooperative, the other still kept teamwork in mind. 6 Rhee Mujin’s cold-hearted plan to kill and abandon the other if they were a sloppy player fell through and the two cleared the engraving quests smoothly.

“Vajra Protection. 7

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〈First attack received in 3 seconds will be invalidated.〉

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What kind of skill is that? Rhee Mujin was certain that it was not a Swordsman’s skill. While the challenger deliberately provoked General Mi’s Aggro 8 to hold the general back, Rhee Mujin, who was approaching from the back, widened his eyes upon seeing a skill he had never seen before.

Rhee Mujin liked PVP so it was an unfamiliar name even though he knew all the skills used by professionals, especially defensive skills.

Is it a small guild’s skill? 9 If not, is it a hidden reward? The challenger may have done some hidden quests since earlier, he had come by himself to carry out the main quest. I’m envious that, compared to others, you have one more invincible skill…  While grumbling to himself, he aimed for the sheep’s wool jutting out from the hollows of the general’s armor, diligently doing damage.

Unlike the earlier phases when they openly gave hints before combat, the later generals did not say much and just attacked them after telling them to overcome the trial. I mean, I was only here for the red spider lily, and now, all of a sudden, I’m being asked to conquer these trials?

Anyhow, after a few attempts, they found out that General Mi could attack from a distance—he wouldn’t budge even if his opponents moved around him, but when his stamina reduced, the general switched to close-range with the status message ‘General Mi is now very excited’.

At the time, when the aggro-holder dragged the general to the secluded corners on the map, the pattern on the floor, which had been hidden by General Mi’s original position, was revealed. The method of attacking changed depending on the type of pattern.

There were more patterns than he thought, so it was difficult to form new strategies to counter each attack. The General Mi is the 3rd earthly branch, the year of the tiger…….it was only their eighth trial, when would they reach the twelfth? Would they be able to finish today? It would be quite difficult to handle if other people came.

Rhee Mujin was quite well adjusted to General Mi’s attack pattern, so he began to think about other things while dealing damage. Suddenly, General Mi’s curled up body straightened like a rubber band snapping back into shape.

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〈General Mi is excited about the repeated attacks!〉

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The General’s weapon changed at the same time the status message popped up. The challenger quickly dragged General Mi to a corner. When the general left, Rhee Mujin quickly identified the pattern.

The sun—a new pattern. He frowned, ‘I’m screwed. Another retry?’ 10

“What’s the pattern?”

“The Sun!”

Whether or not he knew about Rhee Mujin’s fear of restarting  the boss battle, the challenger maintained his distance. Even so, they still needed to try. Rhee Mujin answered the question and immediately turned away.

On this map, various patterns were carved into the walls like murals. This must be some hint…..As he quickly scanned the wall, he noticed the same sun pattern he had seen on the floor. The sun, the sheep below….but what’s up there?

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〈General Mi’s roar shook the Earth’s axis!〉

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“A mind as serene as a polished mirror” 11

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〈You and your party members resist abnormal conditions for 3 seconds.〉

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It was a new status message. Soon the map shook and rock debris gradually fell. What? Is it going to collapse? Are we going to be annihilated? The challenger reflexively used a defense skill, so Rhee Mujin kept an eye on General Mi, but the general’s state didn’t seem to have changed. I’m sure you didn’t just scream because you were bored.

Rhee Mujin’s head was spinning. Everything that existed in a dungeon could be a hint. Status messages wouldn’t appear for no reason. Roar….axis of the earth…axis of the earth? Rhee Mujin took his eyes off the general for a while and took a look at the map.

The twelve earthly branches 12 of the generals’ dungeon instance maps all had similar underlying concepts. It was a rock cave, so the floors and walls were  uneven. There was also no natural lighting, so lamps were placed here and there. Wherever water dropped from the ceiling, puddles bore into the rocky ground…It was a background that would cause any player to be reminded of cliché settings where one would meet their fate.

However, Rhee Mujin noticed that the mural from earlier was flatter compared to the wall. 

The shockwaves of General Mi’s roar formed bumps here and there as it passed by the wall. At this point, he could just jump on them as footholds and climb to the ceiling as if he were rock-climbing. The corners of Rhee Mujin’s mouth curled up.

“Just hang in there for a little longer.”

“Hurry up.”

Jumping was harder than he thought. A test of patience? He fell a couple of times, and after barely managing to calm himself, he reached the top. The sun pattern he saw on the wall earlier was shining red below his feet.

Bingo, Rhee Mujin stepped on the sun without hesitation.

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Translator’s note:

Lil: So much slang… D: Gotta say, as a gamer, the concept of these hidden quests would make me either upset or scour the entire game to try and trigger one. Thanks for joining us for chapter 2 <3

Kame: Many thanks to Lil and Kora for helping with editing this chapter! :3

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Footnotes

  1. A field, in these types of games, are usually open world areas in between cities within the game map. Dungeons are instead, contained instance areas that have a limit to their size with pre-arranged props or environmental obstacles to help or hinder the player.
  2. In the raws, the term ‘challenger’ was used to refer to the other person later. So, to keep it consistent and to avoid confusion, we will be using ‘challenger’ here instead of ‘guy’.
  3. Party, in this sense, is a team within the game.
  4. Third engraving represents the third zodiac of the twelve zodiac signs, and that is the tiger. The tiger is often referenced as the king of the mountains.
  5. Basically, all up in his business. Like he wished he wasn’t there.
  6. As in, the challenger still worked as a team, even if he didn’t seem to speak that way.
  7. 금강 金剛…in Buddhism is referred to as ‘vajra’, a ritual weapon symbolizing the properties of a diamond (indestructibility) and a thunderbolt (irresistible force).
  8. 어그로: “Aggro”, in game terms usually means the boss’s or someone’s attention. The enemy only attacks the people it had aggro’d previously. Basically the challenger did something to provoke it such that it became more fixated on him.
  9. 소수문파少數門派 refers to guilds that don’t have very many people in them. Certain MMO’s award skills to guilds, and thus Rhee Mujin wonders if this is a skill specific to a relatively unpopulated guild.
  10. Korean gamer slang was used there. 리트 Reet:The term “reet” is derived from the word retry. In video games, it’s used to describe a situation where a party fails to surpass certain conditions to defeat a phase of a boss and must retry from the very beginning. In this case, we decided to go with “retry”. There’s a lot of korean game slang terms here, so if you have any suggestions for 1337 speak, feel free to drop it into the comments below. Thanks~
  11. 명경지수/明鏡止水/meikyshisui: Literal translation is clear mirror, still water. It’s based on an early Chinese Daoist concept and is often used in Kendo. It is used to describe a person’s mind that’s like a clear mirror and still water. It’s a tranquil mind ‘undisturbed by evil thoughts’ or a calm mind that allows one to clearly see one’s opponent’s movement or intention. Basically imagine the mind as clear as a mirror and as still as the water—fully focused on their opponent’s movements. 
  12. 십이지 十二支 Twelve Earthly Branches/Terrestrial Branches are a Chinese ordering system used in various contexts like in ancient dating system, astrological traditions, zodiac and ordinals.子, 丑, 寅, 卯, 辰, 巳, 午, 未, 申, 酉, 戌, 亥