The Hero Returns

Chapter 36

Chapter 36: Chapter 36

It was now 2021. The world had changed dramatically after 2020 had passed. The number of awakeners increased, and the corresponding number of dungeons drew a sharp upward curve.

The dungeons weren’t solely a social issue but were turning into a huge problem. Outbreaks were occurring more often since dungeon attacks aren’t executed earlier. Fortunately, there was no significant damage due to the swift action of nearby awakeners, but it had become a severe problem.

“In the future, there will be an increase in dungeons appearing and dungeon outbreaks. Although the number of awakeners is much higher than the dungeons right now…”

“You’re saying that the tables would turn later?”

“At least that’s what I think would happen.”

If it was according to Su-hyeun’s words, the situation had gone beyond a severe level.

Lee Ju-ho was one who had several years of experience as an awakener. He drew up the scene that Su-hyeun shared with him in his mind, where the number of dungeons outnumbered the awakeners.

Lee Ju-ho’s face turned blue in an instant. He put the chopsticks he had in his hand down on the table.

“…It’s over.”

What if dungeons appeared all over the world, and all of those had outbreaks?

There would only be one result. The end of the world.

<<It’s a relief that he understood.>>

When Su-hyeun brought up the story, he had wondered if Lee Ju-ho would ignore his words. As the proportion of dungeons to outbreaks increased, it had become a social problem.

That’s probably why Lee Ju-ho could not ignore his words. Furthermore, if assuming what Su-hyeun said was true…

“If that’s the case, this isn’t favorable at all. Of course, I’ll help.”

“Thank you.”

It was a relief.

If Lee Ju-ho’s negotiations with the authorities were successful, this issue could be solved without much trouble.

However, the problem was that unlike Su-hyeun, who knew how the future went, no one could be certain what decision the authorities would make.

<<I can’t expect too much.>>

The case was only a gamble of probability to a certain extent. It was up to him to prepare in case the gamble failed. The preparation was something which he had on his mind for quite some time.

“But… It’s certainly coincidental.”

“What are you talking about?”

“The period which you mentioned. It coincides with the green level dungeon attack that appeared at Ansan.”

It was sporadic for a green level dungeon to appear.

Not only did such dungeons require A-rank awakeners, depending on the situation, they might also need help from S-rank awakeners.

If the outbreak occurred in such dungeons, the whole city would be in immediate danger, forcing the nation and the Awakeners Authority to focus entirely on the green level dungeons.

In other words, it was also the period where Seoul and Gyeonggi province would have a lack of manpower.

“In fact, I had thought of going there if I couldn’t get to go on the dungeon attack with you…”

It’s not a good thing to say after hearing those words.

“Haa— It’s complicated.”

Even so, he couldn’t leave the green level dungeon alone. If there was an outbreak in the green level dungeon, it would also become a great danger to the city.

“Please don’t expect too much. It’s because it’s me — that’s why I believed it but isn’t it quite a groundless story?”

“I got it. I’ll make my preparations separately.”

Right now, there was a limit to what Su-hyeun and Lee Ju-ho could do, so they could only do their best within their boundaries.

<<As soon as the meal is over….>>

Su-hyeun once again concentrated on his meal and continued his train of thoughts.

<<I’m going to challenge the next floor.>>

* * *

They soon finished their meal.

Lee Ju-ho felt that he could not hold back Su-hyeun for long. He too had to challenge the next floor’s trial and also had to help Su-hyeun with his favor.

Su-hyeun thought over for a moment if he should head back home. It had been a while since he saw Shin Soo-yeong’s face, too.

<<She should be fine.>>

Instead, it might be better for her to think that Su-hyeun was still focused and working hard on ascending the tower. However, he thought that a call would be alright.


Su-hyeun called Shin Soo-yeong.


Though he hadn’t heard her voice for some time, she sounded urgent. She must have been busy on the other line.

“Oh, mom. What are you doing?”

“I’ve been busy for a while with the guests. Your call came at a good time. I was just about to take a break from the guests who just left.”

Shin Soo-yeong had set up her own store. After selling gold for more than a decade, Su-hyeun presented her with a jewelry shop. After setting up her own shop, she did not stop working for a moment. Her shop was quite prosperous, perhaps because of her volubility and ability.

“Are you done with your work? I haven’t heard from you in a while.”

Su-hyeun left the house after getting a small studio. He thought that if he continued to stay with Shin Soo-yeong, he would still be concerned about her. Shin Soo-yeong, too, was more than ready to allow Su-hyeun to become independent.

Still, Su-hyeun still occasionally took time out to spend with her, but of course, he hadn’t had the time to do it recently.

“Yes, it just ended. But I think I’ll have to start on another now.”

“Right away? Wouldn’t it be tough?”

<<Wouldn’t it be tough?>> It was the most common question from her. It was only asked by Shin Soo-yeong. Although he knew she was worried, Su-hyeun liked hearing it.

“It’s all right. I’m not hurt anywhere. People say that I’m a genius. Though I’ve said it before, I think I’m well-suited for this job.”

It wasn’t a lie. In fact, various communities, including Abyss Online, and other countless awakeners, called Su-hyeun a genius and a divinity. Of course, only one of them, Lee Ju-ho, knew Su-hyeun’s face.

“Son, don’t you think you’re too proud of yourself? Karma will get at you for being too conceited.”

“I know. Don’t worry.”

“How can a mom not be worried about her son? Oh, I have a customer. Son, let’s talk again!”

“Okay. Take care.”

And with that, Su-hyeun ended the call.


Su-hyeun drove back in a hurry. He soon arrived at a relatively tall studio apartment building. Su-hyeun was done for the day. He got a new sword, Gram, and met Lee Ju-ho to convey the story. He also had a brief talk with Shin Soo-yeong.

<<In the coming month….>

December 31, 2020.

There was only one month left. During that time, Su-hyeun had no intention of staying idle.

All preparations are complete.

The 20th floor.

The ordeal on that floor was bound to be tense.

“Let’s go.”

As usual, he muttered to himself and stretched his hand forward.


The door opened to the other world.

Su-hyeun’s feet stepped forward.

* * *

Amid the freezing cold, Su-hyeun moved his feet.

When he breathed out, cold air came out from his mouth. While looking at the cold air from his mouth, Su-hyeun walked towards the portal.

A middle-aged beggar sat crouched in front of a gigantic portal that was filled with magic. A familiar vibe came off from the middle-aged man. He felt somewhat similar to the gatekeeper who resided on the 10th floor.

“Are you asleep?”

“Hmm? Ah, um…”

The gatekeeper, who was crouched, raised his head at Su-hyeun’s call. The gatekeeper, who had been yawning, rubbed his eyes with one hand.

“Why? What is it, you called me?”

“If you’re tired, I’ll just go.”

“No, I’m not tired. More than that…” The gatekeeper extended a friendly hand to Su-hyeun.


Most of the gatekeepers’ habits were similar. There was no difference seeing how they were usually crouched and dozing off all day, or asking for money the moment they wake up.

Just what is it with them that they keep asking for money without fail? The achievement points they have had earned so far would be astronomical.

“How much do you want?”

At Su-hyeun’s question, the gatekeeper stared at Su-hyeun’s face. The gatekeeper, who had been looking at Su-hyeun’s face for a while, sighed quietly and said.

“You, you’re a freak.”

“If that’s the case, I’m well aware of that.”

“I’ll need to get a little more from you. 100,000.”

It was enough to be a jaw-dropping price if others heard of this.

100,000 achievement points was an amount that would take some awakeners their entire lifetime to collect, and they might even barely gather enough.

Su-hyeun, however, paid the amount without hesitation. The achievement points were transferred when he put his hand into the gatekeepers’.

[100,000 achievement points consumed.]

The gatekeeper looked at Su-hyeun with a distant look, as if he was contemplating.

“Huh, Euhuhuhuh!”

He grinned widely with his expressionless face and laughed out loud. The gatekeeper, who had been laughing for quite some time, placed his extended hand into his pocket and said.

“The freak is real. So, what do you want?”

“What do you think is waiting for me?”

“The question is too vague.”

“What should I be careful of?”



“There’s nothing for you to watch out for. You’re not going to die.”

It was a good thing.

There was nothing to watch out for and nothing to die from, which meant there was less danger.

It was good news if he could have his risks reduced while ascending the tower.

But that didn’t mean that Su-hyeun was pleased with what the gatekeeper said.

“Is that it?”

Lesser risks had also meant fewer rewards. Moreover, he had readily paid 100,000 achievement points, so how could he only have this much advice? He felt that he had gotten the short end of the stick.

“Don’t worry. I’m not frying.”

Where did he learn that phrase?

“Someone said this a while back. I took his money and ran away. Haha, it was his fault for not understanding the hint.”

“So there’s another hint?”

“It’s not you who should be careful, but the others. And if possible… Don’t kill anyone.”

“What do you mean don’t kill anyone?”

“That’s all for the hints. Now, get lost.”

The gatekeeper waved his hand and started dozing off after getting back in his crouched position. It was an ambiguous hint.

<<Although the gatekeepers are always like this…>>

Hints for level 10 trials were always like this. As expected, the hints Su-hyeun got from the 10th floor were vague, too.

<<But they have never been wrong.>>

At least the hints given by the gatekeepers have never been wrong. Their hints had always been the keywords to the right answers.

Sometimes Su-hyeun wondered what kind of people they were before. Su-hyeun bowed slightly to the gatekeeper and walked towards the portal.

As he stood on the portal, a message appeared.

[Kim Su-hyeun, will you start the trial now?]

Su-hyeun nodded.

“Let’s start.”

[Kim Su-hyeun, your 20th-floor trial starts now.]

[Please select the difficulty.]

[Level 1~10.]

[The higher the level, the more difficult it becomes. The higher the level, the higher the reward of the trial.]

They were different floors, but the question itself was the same every time.

“Level 10.”

He answered with the same words as usual.

Immediately after making the decision, the trial’s scene appeared in front of Su-hyeun’s eyes.

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