Episode 1 Prologue

November 3, 2023 • 6 min read • 603 views

I couldn’t beat it even in the D version, and now I’m supposed to conquer it in reality?

Maybe I’ll have to live here for the rest of my life.

Well, even that won’t be easy.
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Episode 1 Prologue

I’ve loved games since I was young.

The reason was simple.

Being always in the hospital, I naturally had nothing else to do but play games, and as time went by, gaming became a part of my life.

But when you do something for a long time, you get tired of it.

But as with anything done for too long, it gets boring and tiresome.

“Ah, Fu… Is this AI’s decision for real? Why is it giving him the heals?”

At some point, no matter what game I played, it just wasn’t fun like it used to be.

It wasn’t a matter of genre—AOS, RPG, FPS, it didn’t matter.

The games that poured out every year all seemed like trash. The stories and universes felt clichéd and formulaic, and the systems lacked depth.

I wanted a game with something more special.

That’s when I discovered [Dungeon & Stone].

Tadadat. Click, clack.

The genre was single-player RPG.

It was an indie game from overseas.

There was no support for the Korean language, and it used 2D pixel graphics, which is rare to see these days.

To be honest, it wasn’t really to my taste.

But since it was free, I installed it with the intention of just giving it a try, and soon enough I found myself deeply engrossed in the game.

“Wow, I nearly got killed because of that damn priest.”

It was a unique game in many ways.

When a character died, you had to raise it from level 1.

NPC companions were essential for game progression, and even though it was a vertical-scrolling game, it had an incredible amount of freedom.

The skill system and the universe were attractive, and the story was interesting, even though I read it in English.

Crucially, there was something inexplicably special about this game.

Tadadat, tadadadak.

Back then, as a Public Service Worker freshly assigned to the subway , I started to delve seriously into [Dungeon & Stone].

It was tough.

Combat in this game wasn’t just about HP/MP.

A single lapse in judgment, even at full health, can mean the end of a character you’ve spent three months painstakingly building.

“…Let’s go.”

After more than two years without even getting to the midpoint of the game, I swallowed my pride and searched for a strategy.

I had to translate English pages since there was nothing in Korean search engines, but even that proved to be of little use.

There weren’t many international players, so related posts were scarce and lacked substance.

Compared to those who played it for a month or two before writing it off as a bad game, I, who had seriously explored this game by battling its challenges for two years, had a much deeper understanding.

So, I gave up looking for a strategy.

“Up three times, left four times, down once, then left two times, up six times, right four times. Avoid the trap, and… okay.”

After all, wasn’t this the game I finally found after wandering in search of something enjoyable? No matter how long it would take, I decided to finish it on my own.

And so…

“Hoo.”

I have come this far.

「Gate of the Abyss」

My character now stands in front of a portal that leads to the final boss room.

Of course, actually reaching the end will probably take a few more visits here. This isn’t the kind of game where you can beat the boss on just one try.

Still, I can feel how tense I am from my stiff fingertips.

“The final boss, huh…”

It might be nothing to someone else.

But it took me a full 9 years to get here.

It’s no exaggeration to say I spent my entire 20s with this game.

The day I was released from my public service duties, the day I returned to school to apply for readmission, and even the day I received the acceptance letter for the job I wanted after graduation.

I was always playing [Dungeon & Stone].

「Would you like to enter?」

As I controlled my character and approached the portal, I was asked if I wanted to enter.

Naturally, I pressed YES.

But perhaps because it’s the final boss room, another message that seemed important popped up.

「You may not be able to return.」
「Do you really want to enter?」

For a player, it was an unnecessary piece of drama.

Would I not enter now, after coming all this way?
「Yes / No」
I pressed Yes and the screen went to a loading window.

I watched the screen go black and calmed down.

How many patterns does this guy have, and what are his attributes? I’m sure he has an insta-kill move. Well, let’s forget about getting it on the first try and gather as much information as I can. Maybe I’ll have to change my training regimen or combinations.

My brain, stimulated by excitement and anticipation, was only thinking about the final boss.

That’s why it took me so long to notice.
「You have reached the Abyss.」
「Tutorial completed.」

Tutorial completed?

But more importantly, why is it in Korean? Wasn’t [Dungeon & Stone] English only?

「Beginning transmission.」

The moment I sensed something off, a brilliant light exploded forth.

The light was so intense that I didn’t recognize the monitor was the source.

“Oh, fuck, my eyes!”

In an instant, everything turned white.

A ringing sound filled my ears, an unfamiliar heat spread over my skin. My consciousness faded quickly, as if I’d been hit by a tranquilizer.

I usually prided myself on my ability to handle crises, but at this moment I couldn’t even comprehend what was happening.

Flash-!

Feeling the light intensify, I lost consciousness.

And when I opened my eyes again.

I had become the barbarian within the game.