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Chapter 16

Damned 13th Regression



Translator/Editor: Ryuu
Discord: https://dsc.gg/wetried


Chapter 16: Lower-rankers in a Quandary


Thirty-two had perished.

Three days ago, Igor and Jacob, who were ranked 5th and 24th, were killed by a group of five lower-rankers. Since then, the scent of blood never ceased in the village.

Upper-rankers, once ambushed, became alert. They either preemptively attacked the lower-rankers or expelled them from their parties before they could be backstabbed. The lower-rankers, facing a full-scale confrontation, banded together to overpower the numerically inferior upper-rankers.

This was a game with rules, yet it was also the reality where lives were singular. And in conflicts between groups, casualties were inevitable.

Even an upper-ranker, with only about a 100 total stat points over a lower-ranker, was not to be underestimated. Facing a 1:2 battle was a challenge for survival.

Without a clear victory where everyone emerged unscathed, both the aggressors and defenders suffered losses, cooling the heated tensions between the two factions.

After days of mutual killings and ambushes, the situation reached a stalemate. Encounters in dungeons or fields were met with mutual wariness, and within the village, hostile glares were exchanged.

"Hey, you mutt, what are you staring at?"

"Watch yourself in the dungeon. I'll rip off your limbs in place of the arm you've lost."

"Hahahaha, a nobody ranked below 70 trying to act tough. Whine one more time, and you'll lose your remaining arm, so keep your eyes peeled."

A one-armed hunter drew his sword.

As two hunters in the village squared off, dozens of other hunters quickly gathered.

"Why don't you bring out your avatar?"

"Hey, what are you all doing?"

"Want to fight, coward?"

"Maledetto, I'll kill you all."

"Ah, is that so? Let's go!"

Behind one man, the avatar of a general appeared, followed by dozens of other shadows rising.

"Gremlin!" "Sylph!" "Itku." "Teutonic Sword." "Pixie!" "Batu!" "Shurugardmis!" "Scorpio of the Zodiac!"

Dozens of avatars and hunters faced off, baring their fangs at each other.

That's when it happened.

Bang! Bang! Bang!

"Stop, stop, stop!"

Gunshots echoed, drawing all eyes to two figures in the distance. Raoul, ranked 7th, and Giovanni, ranked 39th, had fired their guns into the sky. They were hunters affiliated with the mafia in the real world, who had brought firearms into Babel.

"Enough, enough. It's pointless to drain your energy like this in the village where you can't even fight."

Raoul holstered his gun and clapped a lower-ranker on the shoulder.

"We're sorry~. The kids got a bit too heated. Continuing this madness benefits no one, and those not involved in the fight would just sneak into higher ranks. You wouldn't want that, right?"

Facing Raoul, the lower-ranker, Guillermo, clenched his teeth.

"Alright, disperse~ disperse~ the show's over~. The village gates open at 6 am tomorrow, so if you want to hunt early, better get some sleep~"

Raoul and Giovanni clapped their hands, dispersing the crowd. As they all retreated into the village's empty houses, only Guillermo remained, blood dripping from his clenched fist.

"No, this can't go on, or we'll all die."

Giving up hunting or dying in the attempt had already claimed 30 lives.

The conflict was between 50 upper-rankers and 120 lower-rankers. Now, with 30 more dead, it was...

50 upper-rankers versus 90 lower-rankers.

Even with numerous deaths, the upper-rankers' ranks could be replenished from the lower-rankers, but the number of lower-rankers only decreased.

As days passed, the point gap widened. The lower-ranker team not only lagged in stats and proficiency but also had non-combat avatars like those from the arts or industry, making up half of their force. While they struggled even with first and second-floor dungeon monsters, the combat-oriented avatars and skilled upper-rankers easily hunted, with some parties already clearing dungeons.

The 50th rank had 1,650 points, while the 60th had 1,030.

This gap was no longer bridgeable in a day or two.

Raoul, at rank 7, knew well. The upper-rankers, by clearing dungeons and hunting named monsters for rewards, would only grow stronger and more advantageous with time.

If it was too late to overturn rankings through hunting, the only option was to kill the upper-rankers and take their places before they became even stronger...

But the upper-rankers were undeniably stronger. This stark reality instilled a natural fear in the lower-rankers. Although they knew that uniting could still give them a fighting chance, their bodies were paralyzed by fear. Like how even though three herbivores could potentially overcome a carnivore, most would rather flee than fight. Unlike the communal fate of herbivores, lower-rankers could ascend to become the very predators they feared.

This caused the aspiring upper-rankers, especially those around ranks 50 and 60, to be even more cautious.

Rallying these faint-hearted to hunt down upper-ranker groups was an impossible task.

With only four days until the two-week mark, releasing the village's murder restrictions, one could only wonder what the increasingly powerful upper-rankers would do to the lower-rankers.

Once the three-week mission concluded, the lower-rankers faced certain death. They would have no choice but to bare their fangs at the upper-rankers to survive.

Then, naturally, it was only logical to kill and plunder coins before being attacked.

"What should I do? What can I do?"

Caught in a dilemma with no escape, the foolish lower-rankers were too scared to act, while the upper-rankers waited like snakes for the hunt to begin.

The ticking of death's clock echoed in Guillermo's ears.

= = =

"Hahahaha, jackpot! This is huge!"

Ranked 44th, Ting Jie burst into laughter upon seeing the message before him.

[You have breached the 3rd zone of Hellgate Labyrinth in 20 minutes! As a reward, you receive 1 blue coin!]

[You have breached the 4th zone of Hellgate Labyrinth in 20 minutes! As a reward…]

[You have breached the 5th zone of Hellgate Labyrinth in 20 minutes…]

[You have breached the 6th zone of Hellgate Labyrinth…] 

[You have breached the 7th zone of Hellgate Labyrinth…]

[You have defeated all named monsters stationed in each zone of Hellgate Labyrinth!]

[As a reward, you receive 500 Violet coins and 3 Blue coins!]

"Ting, isn't this more blue coins than we've ever seen in our lives? Just the blue coins here are over 50."

"Man, I've never even seen a blue coin before, since I've never completed a first-come-first-serve or time attack achievement."

"And with 500 violet coins, we can raise two stats to E class. We might even stand a chance against those ranked in the top 20."

"Nah, those guys must have accumulated smaller achievements to climb up there too. But at least we can secure our rank now."

Ting and the four hunters reveled in their achievements and the bounty of coins before them.

[You have vanquished the Hellfire Sentinel of the seven zones of Hellgate Labyrinth.]

[You have acquired the title ‘Hellfire Sentinel's Blessing.’ When equipped, it grants Fire Resistance (E).]

"Alright, I've equipped the title as you suggested. You said we'd need this before entering the boss fight, right?"

Ting looked at the man sitting on a black rock, puffing away at a cigarette in silence. They had 'coincidentally' met this man in the 2nd zone of Hellgate Labyrinth, struggling to hunt on their own. He had offered to help them strategize against the labyrinth's boss, the "Hellhound."

"Yep, let's go in. Just let me finish this."

The man who had effortlessly decapitated the Hellfire Sentinel sheathed his sword at his waist.

The Hellgate Labyrinth was among the tougher 1st-floor dungeons. The man, wandering alone, was suspicious. Naturally, Ting's group planned to ambush him and steal his coins. However, he introduced himself as the top-ranked 'X.'

The pieces fit. No one in the village knew his identity because he hunted alone, and his solo traversal of the 2nd zone suggested his top-ranking skills.

As proof, when Ting struggled against the Hellfire Sentinel, X ambushed it from behind, swiftly cutting it down.

He proposed cooperation with these words:

"To deal significant damage to the Hellhound, you need to attack the four crystal orbs in the boss room. I can't do it alone. I'll stack about ten achievements for you. Let's hunt the boss together. If that's not enough, I'll help you earn more achievements elsewhere."

“That’s suspiciously generous, don't you think?"

"Don't see it that way. Even I must return to the village eventually, and soon enough, people will guess who X is. I can't fend off everyone alone. It helps to have some allies who understand each other, right?"

Despite the dubious offer, the guaranteed achievements proved his sincerity. Besides, even if he betrayed them during the Hellhound fight, they had the numbers and the "Medusa”[1] avatar, a binding type, ensuring they wouldn't lose.

Of course, this world was too dangerous to trust calculations blindly. There is only one life, after all. Ting rubbed his axe blade, pondering.

"We'll backstab X during the Hellhound fight."

It was regrettable to miss out on further achievements, but certainty always prevailed.

X, standing before them with a pipe in hand, made a request.

"GM, extend buff authority."

[Yes, Master. Please select from the list.]

"Swallower of Hellfire."

[Identified ability rank E, E, D, D, E, D, F. Applying buff cost formula.]

[320 Violet coins will be consumed to apply the buff 〈Swallower of Hellfire〉.]

[You have been granted Fire Resistance (A) and a 30% increase in fire-based skill damage.]

[Fire attribute monsters will either revere or avoid you.]

"Title: Boss Slicer."

[The title "1F Boss Slicer" has been equipped. Your weapon's cutting power triples against 1st-floor bosses.]

Joo Gong-hyeok stood at the door, glancing back.

"Let's go in. As promised, I'll hold off the Hellhound while you simultaneously attack the four crystal orbs."

'X' made this request before boldly opening the door to Hell.

= = =



[1]: In Greek mythology, Medusa, also called Gorgo, or the Gorgon, was one of the three Gorgons. Medusa is generally described as a human female with living snakes in place of hair; her appearance was so hideous that anyone who looked upon her was turned to stone. Medusa and her Gorgon sisters Euryale and Stheno were usually described as daughters of Phorcys and Ceto; of the three, only Medusa was mortal.


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Chapter 16

Damned 13th Regression


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