It happened one night.
In the guildhouse of the PK guild “Liberacion”, a boy and a girl were surrounded by guild members.
The boy had a horn sprouting from his forehead and scales on his skin, while the girl had peculiar patterns on her body; judging from such visual traits, the boy was a Dragnil and the girl a Pixie.
While venturing outside looking for ingredients, they were suddenly surrounded by players and caught with no room to escape.
Now, in the area built within the guildhouse, the boy -called Masakado- was forced to fight against monsters. His opponent was a level 398 bug-type monster, a Stag Mantis, which was a cross between a stag beetle and a mantis, boasting four scythes and a pair of pincers.
Masakado’s level was over 200, but he had already resurrected a few times, so his stats were, on average, just a bit higher than 300. These were numbers rather worrying if facing against a Stag Mantis.
Even more worrying was the fact that the key to draw out his power as a Magic Swordsman, his sword 『Rune Blade』 had been snatched by the PKs. His sub job was Fist Fighter, but the most he could do now was avoid the monster’s attacks.
“Come on, come on! Run faster or you’re gonna die!”
“Serves ya right for acting all cool trying to protect the girl!”
“Looks like we’ll have a winner pretty soon!”
The PKs watching the fight from outside the arena yelled and jeered.
As long as the girl who was with him, Hilamee, was taken hostage, Masakado could not try anything. The only way out available to him now, was defeating the Stag Mantis.
Masakado swore and leapt away. Less than one second later, a scythe about the same size as he was, pierced the ground where he had been standing.
Bug-type monsters excelled at physical attacks and defense. Masakado, as he was now, would surely be killed if he received even just a few blows.
Hilamee was trying to say something, but the gag on her mouth prevented her from formulating actual words.
“Why did this…”
The long game of tag against the superior monster had started shaving off Masakado’s powers of concentration. When would it end? Even if he really defeated the Stag Mantis, would they be saved?
He was supposed to be thinking of a way to rescue Hilamee and escape, but his overworked mind ended up thinking of things completely unrelated.
He was almost at his limit. Masakado started thinking of a last resort attack on the Stag Beetle.
In front of Masakado’s eyes, Hilamee floated in midair. Precisely speaking, the PK that had captured her thrown the bound girl in the ring.
Hilamee’s body struck the ground, rolled a few times and stopped. The Stag Mantis was right next to her.
“C’mon boy, go save her or she’ll be in danger!”
Masakado jumped at the Stag Mantis. The monster’s attention was focused on Hilamee, so Masakado’s jumping kick hit its head cleanly, causing the monster to stagger.
However, Its HP barely decreased and the monster soon regained its balance.
The back of the monster’s scythes, which it had swung wide to get rid of the annoyance that had hit it, landed squarely on Masakado’s abdomen. Due to the differences in physique and stats, Masakado was blown away. He crashed against the ground, his body grating against the floor of the arena.
The HP gauge displayed at the edge of Masakado’s line of sight had decreased by around 30%. In addition, the status display indicated he had been poisoned.
Hilamee tried to shout again. Uncaring, the Stag Mantis raised its four scythes in her direction.
The female pixie was a Mage with low defense. If she was struck by all four scythes, her HP gauge would surely be annihilated.
“Damn you…look at meeeeeeee!!!”
Masakado used a taunt skill to force the monster to turn towards him. However, the Stag Mantis had already started its attack motions, and did not even look at him.
A few more seconds and Hilamee would die. He wouldn’t last much longer either. Just as a feeling of hopeless surrender was about to envelop Masakado’s heart…
“—that wasn’t a bad choice.”
The voice of a man, a voice he had heard before, suddenly resounded. At the same time, the guildhouse shook violently.
“What!? What the hell’s going on!?”
The vibration, strong enough to lift the ground up, caused confusion among the PKs.
A pale blue ball suddenly appeared in the center of the arena; the next instant, thunder and lightning ran across the ring.
The booming thunderclap caused Masakado’s sight to go black. It was the rare visual status effect caused by strong flashing of light or thunder, 【Blind】.
No matter how much he squinted, Masakado could not tell what was happening around him. The PKs’ screams, however, echoed clearly in his ears.
“Shadow, please take those two.”
“Got it. Hey, stay quiet.”
The confused Masakado was forcefully grabbed by someone. There were two people next to him apparently. Judging from their conversation, a man called Shadow had just lifted Masakado on his shoulders.
Masakado instinctively fought back when he was grabbed, but stopped moving after Shadow dashed away. The speed at which he moved, far higher than Masakado’s, would have caused him to fall if he struggled.
Shadow moved one step forward, paused for a second, then dashed away again.
Several seconds later, he leapt high in the air.
He heard a lament right next to him. He could swear it was Hilamee’s voice.
After they landed, Shadow urged them to stop struggling and jumped even higher. As with the first jump, they landed somewhere high and then jumped to a farther high place.
“I’m going to heal you. Quiet.”
Masakado nodded quietly. He was saved from certain death at the “hands” of the Stag Mantis. He did not know what Shadow and his companion had in mind, but he had no reason to oppose them.
The status effect 【Blind】 disappeared and Masakado could finally see again; he immediately looked around for Hilamee.
“You’re safe…I’m glad.”
Hilamee had just been freed from her mouth gag. The man that was now untying the ropes binding her hands was probably Shadow.
He was a young man clad in ninja-like equipment. Masakado’s 【Analyze V】 barely revealed any information about him, but judging from his earlier movements, he was surely an advanced player.
“Use this and go back to town.”
Shadow threw a crystal to the two. Masakado frantically caught it and realized it was imbued with teleportation magic.
“I-is it really alright? This looks really expensive…”
For Masakado and Hilamee, who had been robbed of their possessions, it was a very welcome gift.
Teleportation magic had ranks too; the low rank allowed teleportation from outside fields and town buildings, the middle rank able from dungeons too, and the high rank also allowed from unique locations. The ranks were signaled by colors: low rank was brown, middle rank silver, and high rank golden.
There were some areas where teleport crystals could not be used, but the place where they were now was just a field. Using a golden crystal would be nothing but wasteful.
To teleport from a field to the town, a brown crystal was more than enough. Crystals imbued with high-rank teleport magic were rare, so for Masakado it must have looked terribly valuable.
“You’ll be in our way if you stay. Shut up and go. We can’t save you again if they come after you.”
Shadow then quickly dashed back to the PK guildhouse.
Hilamee, finally free, pointed at the guildhouse. The structure was still being rocked by explosions, bursts of light blazing all around it, illuminating the night sky to the point that it was as bright as noon.
Human silhouettes could be seen jumping out every once in awhile. They were holding brown or golden crystals, suggesting that they were trying to teleport away.
Not one of them, however, managed to successfully make their escape.
One was burnt to a crisp by a blue flame that blazed through the guildhouse walls, another was skewered by a black spike arising from the ground, others suddenly turned into ice statues and shattered.
Masakado, or maybe Hilamee, held their breath. They had been told to return to their town, but the scenery of the guildhouse being destroyed and the PKs vanishing before their eyes froze them where they stood.
If the guildhouse looked like that from outside, things had to be even more chaotic inside.
Suddenly, darkness enveloped the two. They took a few seconds to notice that there were no more explosions or bursts of light from the guildhouse.
Finally, light descended again.
A pillar of light, large enough to cover the whole guildhouse, and powerful enough to blow away the surrounding trees and rocks.
“Is that…a skill…?”
Masakado had difficulty believing that there existed a skill that could produce such immense power. He could barely make out the shadow of the guildhouse, but that too disappeared soon.
As the light pillar vanished, literally nothing stood in its wake.
Buildings vanished when their durability ran out. Everyone knew that much, but seeing something disappear without a trace like that filled them with something akin to horror. Needless to think how the PKs inside must have felt.
Hilamee pointed at two human silhouettes coming their way. One was the man that had saved them, the other was a player that Masakado and Hilamee both knew.
“Yeah, I mean, he should be…”
Few did not know Shin’s name, his face, and reason behind his fame.
Masakado and Hilamee had been saved by Shin already in the past too. They knew that he wasn’t the kind of person to unleash utter destruction like that.
Looking at the place where the guildhouse once was, only a scorched patch remained. The scene they had just witnessed clearly showed what had happened there.
Shin had exterminated the PKs, all the players inside the guild. That was something the Shin that Masakado knew would have never done.
Masakado and Hilamee didn’t know what had happened to Shin. As such, they didn’t understand.
They neither knew the reason why he was there, nor why his equipment was different.
Or why his expression seemed void of all emotion, an expression they had never seen before.
“Ah, er, Mr. Shin…?”
Shin must have noticed their presence, but did not react to them in the least. Masakado gathered his courage and spoke to him, but there was no answer. Not even a glance in his direction.
Shadow, walking next to him, did not say anything either.
Shin and Shadow kept walking away; Masakado could not say anything more.
“What in the world happened to him….?”
Masakado’s confused words were lost in the night, not reaching Shin’s or anyone’s ears.
That night, 24 players disappeared from THE NEW GATE’s world.
It was the start of an unprecedented cleansing that raged on with storm-like fury.
“It’s nice to see you again. Your achievements are getting more and more talked about, you know.”
Calmia chuckled while looking at Shin.
Almost one month had passed since Shin started his PK hunt. Even if he had kept his identity and figure hidden, the news that Shin was going around killing PKs spread quickly.
The pace was too fast, the massacre too one-sided. Too subtle for a major guild, while for a smaller guild not suffering any casualties would have been impossible. On the other hand, some players whispered that a certain person had not shown themselves in the dungeon clearing frontlines recently.
As Shin’s disappearance and the start of the PK hunt happened roughly at the same time, the rumors eventually became that Shin had started performing a “PK cleansing”.
The rumors became more and more believable as witnesses, rescued by him, started reporting what they saw.
“They’re more on their guard now. It’s a pain.”
“Is that something the man who crushed dozens of PK guilds would say? Thanks to your rampage, it’s been a mess here these days, everyone crying and laughing…”
Normally, avenged players would not show their emotions openly, out of respect for others whose aggressors were still unpunished. But now, the numbers were too great, as were the expectations for the future, so Avidya’s guildhouse looked more or less like a banquet hall.
They praised and hailed Shin as a hero for destroying PK guilds with his powerful skills.
Others, like Shadow, did their part too, but the scale of destruction caused and people killed were too different for them to be mentioned.
“There are some players who disapprove of your ways though. I don’t think the major guilds will actually move, but they might attempt something, so be careful.”
Calmia looked worried. Shin nodded without any particular change in his expression.
Yes, even if he was killing PKs, murderers, his actions were judged in many ways.
Many said that revenge was meaningless, that he would just become the same as them, they lost their respect for Shin. Some of them started calling him “God of Death”.
“No problem. The only large guild remaining is “Ouroboros” anyway. I won’t let the smaller ones go though, I have no intention of stopping now that I’ve come so far.”
“Is that so? I can give you this information then.”
“Yes, at last we have found Ouroboros’ hideout. Gargalla has been seen too. Vlad doesn’t seem to be around though. Based on the information we have, he hasn’t returned to the guild and is acting on his own.”
Shin remembered Vlad’s gloating expression. It was still etched clearly in his memories.
Maybe he was observing Shin from afar. That’s how deep the obsession he felt emanating from Vlad.
“I don’t know if Vlad will be there, but it seems that they will have a large gathering three days from now. You’ve been destroying PK guilds one after the other, so they might be meeting to develop countermeasures. The most skilled PKs still alive will likely be there, do be careful.”
“Got it. But having targets gather like that is pretty helpful for me. Being ambushed by high-class PKs would be pretty nasty.”
“Don’t push yourself too hard, okay? Some people try suicide attacks against PKs, but if everyone did that no one would be left…”
“I’m not as admirable as that. That’s the last large-scale PK guild; I’m going to make it leave the stage with a bang.”
Shin spoke what he truly felt.
He had no intention of losing his life while killing the PKs; he loathed the idea of dying alongside them even more than being killed by them.
He would use all means available. Only the PKs needed to disappear. That was the method Shin adopted.
“Maybe I should keep this for myself…but in a way, I feel like I have to tell him, hmm…”
After obtaining more details, Shin left Avidya’s guildhouse and went to the meeting point with Shadow.
Unlike Shin, Shadow was hell-bent on killing Gargalla, even at the cost of his own life. Shin thus was thinking of carrying out the next mission alone.
“…no, that won’t work.”
No matter how much he thought, the conclusion he reached was always to tell Shadow.
If Shin hadn’t lost Marino, he might have tried everything he could to stop Shadow.
Shin’s position, though, was the same as Shadow’s. To exact vengeance with your own hands. No one could stop that feeling.
Even if death would follow vengeance, they would not stop. The opinions of others meant nothing. It was only about what the person themselves thought, that was the only question.
Shin looked up at the sky and saw pure white snow starting to fall.
When Shadow heard about Gargalla’s whereabouts, a twisted smile appeared on his lips.