After leaving the building, I got into a taxi and headed somewhere.
It was the small tunnel in the back of the village where I first entered the stage.
I expected there to be a lot of people here, but unlike my expectations, there wasn’t anyone here.
It seemed like a lot of entrances have been discovered by the public, but.
Not that many people knew about this place.
“The fourth stage should be easy.”
There were rumors that the fourth stage took place in one location, unlike the previous stages where they placed the survivors in different locations.
It was a stage where people that have been separated from the previous stage gather here and meet.
Taking down a monster was the way to clear the stage, but it was different.
The stage had 10 different monsters and the survivors were required to take them down and gather the cards that they dropped.
It was like finishing a puzzle.
They said that it’s an issue because there were too many people.
There’s no proof of it, but there are rumors saying that there were thousands of people within the fourth stage.
The survivors that already cleared the stage said that it was a pretty easy stage to clear.
The biggest stress was getting along with the others since there were so many people and everyone was trying to clear the stage.
They should have them fight over territory or over the cards that are used in the stage.
“I won’t know unless I enter the stage.”
I scratched my head and carefully walked through the tunnel.
Unlike before, I wasn’t easily scared of the gloomy atmosphere.
“You’ve come back.”
As a white smoke enveloped me, I heard the voice of the manager that I met before.
It definitely belonged to the woman that got me out.
“Are you here to take me down?”
“That is part of my plan. But, since I couldn’t even scratch you, I’ll need more time.”
“Should I send you back to that stage? If it’s 10 years, then you might have a chance at taking me down.”
“I’ll decline. Honestly, it was weird since I was by myself the entire time.”
“Wow, are you actually saying that you felt lonely?”
“Ha ha, well humans do feel loneliness. That place was just beyond crazy. When I returned to Seoul, there were people around me, so it was nice.”
The manager seemed to be enjoying the conversation she was having with me because she kept on scoffing in the middle of the conversation.
“Then, did you come back in order to form a party with the other survivors?”
“Nice joke, but if they wanted to work under me, I might consider it. Under the condition that I get all the experience points and dropped items.”
“Looks like you’ll be all alone for the rest of your life. I feel bad for you.”
“That’s possible. But, just because I’m alone doesn’t mean I can’t complete it. I might…actually do better?”
“Well, it’s not going to be as easy as you think. In a lot of ways.”
As soon as she said that, I lost consciousness and was on my way to the stage.
When I opened my eyes, I was in a forest.
Unlike the information that said that there would be a lot of people, there wasn’t a single person around me.
“Am I at a remote location?”
[Sense Detection – S Rank]
It’s a skill that detected a presence around me.
Once it’s above Rank A, it allows me to hear sounds even through a soundproof wall.
It lowers the effectiveness of skills related to hiding and can catch any that are B ranks and below.
Through Sense Detection, I could only hear sounds from a couple of places.
I decided to walk towards one of those places.
I kicked the trees around me and walked through the forest like a ninja.
This forest seemed to be the Forest Trolls’ territory because I discovered their village.
I fought against them before during the third stage.
They had a strong regenerative power and were stubborn too, so they wouldn’t go down with a simple attack.
Despite of the time when their arms and legs were cut off due to a trap, they continued coming after me and to this day, I could never forget their faces.
But this was different from then.
It meant that I didn’t have to make another shabby trap using sticks and bushes.
With a bow and arrow, I can quietly take out those guys.
Through Sense Detection, I was able to detect eight trolls.
There were also two guards around the area, so in total, there were 10 trolls.
In order to hunt, I got into position and slowly pulled the arrow back.
The arrow pierced through the neck of a guard that passed the front gate and was about to go in through the back gate.
Trolls and orcs use the horn flute that’s tied around their waist to notify the others that an enemy appeared.
However, when their neck is injured, it’s impossible for them to blow it.
While I was thinking that.
The Forest Troll looked like they were going to die at any moment, but they still raised the horn flute.
I was shocked after seeing that and quickly climbed down the tree.
As I walked through the bushes, I ended up standing in front of that troll and decided to kill it with my sword.
The Forest Troll’s head rolled away.
But something was weird.
At my level, I should be able to take down one little troll without any issues.
‘Is it because I didn’t use any mana when I shot that arrow?’
I decided that it would still be strong enough even if I didn’t use any mana.
While feeling uneasy, I got into position again to shoot another arrow.
I targeted the guard that was patrolling the back gate.
I added a very small amount of mana to the arrow and a blue smoke started coming out from the tip of the arrow.
I aimed for their neck again.
I was certain that their neck would blow up, but the arrow just passed through the center of their neck and landed on the ground.
I couldn’t finish it off this time either.
I climbed down the tree again and did the same thing that I did moments ago.
“Should I aim for their head?”
Honestly, the question about whether I should aim for the head or the neck wasn’t the issue.
It was the Forest Trolls that wouldn’t die even after being hit by an arrow.
When I thought about the previous battle, I remember them being helpless when they got hit above the neck.
But, this place was different.
The Forest Trolls became stronger during my absence.
Or maybe the trolls that I fought back then weren’t Forest Trolls.
Either way, I was pretty shocked by the situation.
In the end, in order to calm down my uneasiness, I walked through the back gate with confidence.
“It’s a human.”
When the Forest Trolls saw me, they grabbed their lance and clubs and were about to get into position.
Before they could get into position, I quickly charged forward and attacked.
My sword extended out towards the enemy.
The Forest Troll soldier blocked my attack.
I used my mana on my sword, but they were still able to block it?
The hand that was holding the sword loosened up a bit and it caused me to fall back.
“Hey, what is this?”
Even though I knew they weren’t listening to me, I started mumbling towards the troll.
“Are you really the monster for the fourth stage?”
If I’m not careful about how I fight them, I could be the one that could get killed here, not them.
Buff, environmental properties, or did they grow on their own?
Figuring out what happened was something I could think about later.
I used the skills that I had and fought the Forest Trolls, but it lasted a lot longer than I expected.
The fight ended when all of them fell to the ground.
I stabbed the sword to the ground and tried to catch my breath.
“…That was hard.”
That came out naturally and the beads of sweat on my face started rolling down.
After training for 30,000 hours, I thought there wouldn’t be an enemy that could give me a hard time, but I was proven wrong in the fourth stage.
This was absurd.
“If they’re this difficult, how did the others take them down?”
Just now, I had an interview and even took down a member of the Miracle Clan before coming here.
He boasted about how he was in the 19th stage.
“That guy has been fighting in the 19th stage?”
I couldn’t understand.
There was something seriously wrong about this.
“I at least got the card.”
Thankfully, while I was searching through the items that the soldiers dropped, I obtained a card.
My body was out of energy and I couldn’t think about going to the next hunting spot.
In the fourth stage, there’s a village where the survivors gather to exchange information and items, so I decided to head there.
“It’s already been designated.”
According to the community, when the Return Amulet is used, it automatically returns the user back to the village.
And after testing it out, that information was true.
As soon as I used the Return Amulet, I was taken to the village.
And after arriving at the village, I was shocked again.
When I used Sense Detection, I couldn’t detect the people at all.
The ones that I detected in the forest were all Forest Trolls.
When I arrived at the village, my anxiety turned to assurance.
My surroundings was filled with silence.
I was the only challenger in the fourth stage.
“…Ha ha ha, what’s going on?”
<Fourth Stage #1>